Review by Kristina Campbell
Rating: (4 out of 5)
Tuesday, 10/16/2007, 7:00 PM
Feature presentation, $10 at Goethe Institut Inter Nationes
German and Dutch with subtitles
THE WOMEN OF Vivere are equal parts intriguing, incomprehensible and intense. Told in three segments, from each woman’s point of view, this German film explores the stories of 20-something Francesca, her 17-year-old sister Antoinetta and a mysterious older woman, Gerlinde, who crosses both of their paths.
Gerlinde (Hannelore Elsner) fills a maternal void for Antoinetta (Kim Schnitzer), a rebellious teenager whose mother died when she was 3 years old, and serves as an emotional panacea for Francesca (Esther Zimmering), a lesbian cabbie who lives with her father and sister and seems to be a battering ram for both of them. When Antoinetta takes off for Rotterdam with her rock-star boyfriend, Francesca is guilt-tripped into driving to the city on Christmas Eve to find her. Along the way she picks up Gerlinde, who’s nursing her own broken heart and compels Francesca to offer comfort, even though it’s clear Francesca herself is seeking the same.
It’s a nicely constructed film with strong character development and interesting story lines, but weltschmerz — or angst or some other quality that’s likely also German in nature and etymology — leaves the viewer empty at the end of each piece. We get to know the three women from their three points of view, but their struggles go not only unresolved, but also largely unaddressed, making the movie feel at times like an exercise in repression and frustration.
Maybe that’s the point, or maybe the resolutions are too understated. Regardless, it’s a decent film. Just be prepared to feel a bit hollow afterward, unless schadenfreude is your thing. — KC