Reel Affirmations 2004
Was nützt die Liebe in Gedanken
Review by Sean Bugg
Rating: (3 out of 5)
Saturday, 10/16/2004, 5:00 PM
Feature presentation, $9 at Lincoln Theatre
German with English subtitles
WITH ITS LANGUID visuals and idealized beauty, Love in Thoughts is in some ways a study of false utopias, appropriate enough given the setting of pre-WWII Weimar Germany.
Guenther and Paul are students in Berlin. Guenther, who comes from a wealthy family, invited Paul, a talented poet, to spend a weekend at his parents lakeside home. Eager to spend time with Guenther libertine sister, Hilde, Paul eagerly agrees.
Because the based-in-fact film is structured in flashback, you know that a suicide pact between Guenther and Paul has led to Guenther’s death — they’ve decided that when they no longer have love, when they’ve passed their pinnacle of happiness, then it will be time to end their lives.
Over the course of a weekend filled with alcohol, absinthe and American music, doomed romantic entanglements are revealed, primarily the love that Hilde and Guenther both have for the dashing Hans, who has loved both brother and sister separately and, perhaps, together.
With the bucolic country setting and period costumes, director Achim von Borries creates what looks like an extended Ralph Lauren commercial. The casual decadence of the upper class is on full display — if only there were a vampire present, it would be an Anne Rice novel.
In fact, there do seem to be some vampires present, of the emotional sort. Hans and Hilde both seem to relish their abilities to upend the emotions of others — Hilde in particular is casually cruel to friends and lovers both, in a way that negates anything admirable about her nascent feminism.
At once compelling and maddening, Love in Thoughts moves in fits and starts toward a violent climax that truly is of the characters’ own makings.