Editor’s Notes: The following capsule reviews are part of our coverage of the 2015 Berlin International Film Festival. For more information on the festival visit http://www.berlinale.de and follow Berlinale on Twitter at@berlinale.
Every Thing Will Be Fine (2015)
Dir. Wim Wenders
Wim Wenders is back in Berlin and will be awarded with the Honorary Golden Bear for his artistic career during a ceremony later this week. Shortly before that, he presented his new 3D feature film Every Thing Will Be Fine (Out of Competition). Written by Bjorn Olaf Johannessen and directed by Wenders, the film stretches over the course of 12 years and deals with the aftermath of a tragic accident and offers a deep character-study by exploring issues such as guilt, forgiveness and healing. Driving down a snowy street in the countryside of Quebec during heavy snowfall, Tomas (James Franco), a struggling writer, rejects an incoming phone call by girlfriend Sarah (Rachel McAdams) and finds himself in the middle of a tragedy a split second later after he run over a little boy who had been sledding with his older brother Christopher. The film focuses on the different ways of coping with this traumatic experience by following Tomas, Christopher and his mother Kate (Charlotte Gainsbourg) through the years. It also raises the question of whether or not a writer can or should be inspired by such tragic events. According to Wim Wenders, he shot Every Thing Will Be Fine in 3D to enhance the intimacy of the dramatic story, however the effect seems rather unnecessary. Despite its questionable technical format, Every Thing Will Be Fine is a moving feature about loss, forgiveness and self-forgiveness, with a terrific performance by James Franco.
As We Were Dreaming (Dir. Andreas Dresen, 2015)
Als wir träumten (As We Were Dreaming) (2015)
Dir. Andreas Dresen
Based on Clemens Meyer’s novel of the same name, As We Were Dreaming is a young and powerful portrait of five teenagers in Leipzig during the early 90s, directed by Andreas Dresen and adapted by Wolfgang Kohlhaase. The recent reunification offers Dani (Merlin Rose), Rico (Julius Nitschkoff), Paul (Frederic Haselon), Mark (Joel Basman) and Pitbull (Marcel Heuperman) a newly won freedom and encourages a life in which dreams might come true. The five guys open their own underground nightclub, becoming the youngest club owners in Leipzig, dancing to heavy techno beats until dawn, drinking and using drugs. Soon their world is shattered by skinheads who feel threatened by they guys’ new business and Dani’s affection for Sternchen (Ruby O. Fee), the girlfriend of the skinheads’ leader. Additionally to that criminal offenses, violence and heavy drug abuse dictates their everyday life. As We Were Dreaming reflects on a disoriented youth, caught between two opposing political systems, which is highlighted by the alternation of two timelines. One taking place during the socialist system of the GDR when the boys were 13 years old and the other concentrating on the 17 year old teenagers struggling to grow up in the new world after the German reunification. Dresen’s film is an upbeat, rebellious and ruthless take on the unfulfilled hopes and dreams of a group of friends in Eastern Germany during the early 90s.
Knight of Cups (2015)
Dir. Terrence Malick
Set in Los Angeles, Terrence Malick’s seventh feature Knight of Cups, follows a troubled screenwriter called Rick (Christian Bale) wandering around the city, trying to make sense of life. During this journey to himself, he explores the unknown and asks basic questions regarding human existence that eventually remain unanswered: “Who am I?”, “What am I doing here?”. The title of Knight of Cups is based on a tarot card of the same name, which implies that the Knight is someone guided by his heart, his emotions and love, rather than logic, just like Rick. His romantic encounters and affairs with various women (Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman, Imogen Poots) as well as his family visits are divided into several chapters, named after additional tarot cards. Each chapter features strong, emotional interaction between the characters, especially powerful through intense body language, facial expression, gestures and physical contact due to very few dialogue. The unconventional, dreamlike storytelling is quite poetic, highlighted by visually beautiful edited montages, romantic shots against the sunlight, preferably at the beach during sunset and whispery voice-over, creating a mosaic of memories and a stream of consciousness. Malick’s Knight of Cups might be a bit repetitive and seems all over the place at times but it is nevertheless a wonderful and thoughtful film, exploring the human mind, questioning the meaning of life and experimenting with narrative structure and style.
I’m a German based passionate film lover with main interests in contemporary, arthouse and independent cinema. I love the cinematic experience on screen, unconventional storytelling and getting carried away by it. Besides film, I am also interested in general pop culture and addicted to way too many TV shows I never seem to be able to catch up on.