AMOUR FOU, the new work by Jessica Hausner, who also gave us Lourdes. As good as was that earlier movie, her new one is even better: richer, more specific and dealing with so many themes and ideas simultaneously in ways that makes them glitter and refract until you can see them from some very surprising angles. Ladies and gentlemen, this is movie art of a very high order. It is also, in its quiet way, as grandly entertaining as you could wish.
Heinrich von Kleist, and the suicide pact he hoped to make with a smitten young woman -- the movie is hugely (but again, quietly) funny as it decon-structs, via careful observa-tion, so many of the notions we still hold dear--including romantic love, family life, and medical diagnoses.
Christian Friedel, above, right, of The White Ribbon and Chicken with Plums -- who plays von Kleist looking surprisingly like the portraits we have of the poet himself. In this role, Herr Friedel manages to be utterly real, ridiculously romantic, and an absolutely major twat. He is memorable in the most bizarre manner.
Birte Schnoeink (in foreground, above), and it is Henriette, together with those who surround her -- husband, mother, daughter, servant and dog -- who form the family unit that tries to protect the young woman from von Kleist, as well as from herself and from the medicine professionals of the day. All conspire to rob Henriette of her very life, and part of the irony, even of the bleak, black humor of the tale, comes from the way in which the supporting characters, especially the husband (a finely detailed performance by Stephan Grossman, below, left), try their best yet fail to make the necessary difference.
Film Movement (and one of the best this distributor has released in a long while) has its U.S. theatrical premiere this Wednesday, March 18, via a one-week run at Film Forum in New York City. In Los Angeles, look for it at Laemmle's Royal come Friday, March 20; then it's off to Miami, Minneapolis, Santa Fe, Seattle and Winston-Salem. Click here (then scroll down) to see all currently scheduled playdates, with cities and theaters listed.