Yella has decided to leave her small town in eastern Germany for a new life on the other side of the Elbe. But strange voices and sounds are plaguing Yella—truths from her past coming back to haunt her.
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An odd but thought-provoking mix of metaphysical exploration and a story that deals with complicated ideas of fealty and financial chicanery. It is most successful when its latent dark, absurd humour is made present.
9/10. Deeply impressive stuff. Informed my dreams and only grew on me further the next day. This isn't even a genre film. Or perhaps: this is a realistic genre film resisting simple classification. It's so subtle and restrained in its supernatural elements. Carried by a brilliant performance from Striesow, alongside Hoss. There is so much attention to details here.
*Spoiler* The "all just a dream" trope and its variants often don't work because they tend to feel like a cheat. But on occasion a director can nail the cinematic depiction of the late comedian Bill Hicks' infamous quote: "There is no such thing as death. Life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves." I thought about this film for days afterward and concluded, "Yes!"
Most of all I enjoyed watching the recurrence of Yella's bright red blouse. To me it felt like a bright signal amongst muted colors, understated situations, and the threat of violence. This movie reminded me how much I like thrillers.
The film provides an excellent potrayal of a woman's descent into madness, but unfortunately with one unforgivable flaw (in my opnion). This is not a good entry point to Petzold's work. Ghosts and The State I Am In (newly available on R1 DVD) are better choices if you haven't seen Petzold's films before.