Thursday, April 8, 2010

EVERYONE ELSE, Maren Ade's sophomore splendor, arrives via Cinema Guild

With only two full-length films to her credit, German writer/director Maren Ade (shown below) appears to have the ability to burn indelible things into our psyches.  Anyone who saw her first film The Forest for the Trees, could not help have been shaken to the core (its ending is one of the most quietly devastating and memorable that I have ever seen). Now she returns with a film certainly as good, perhaps even better -- and thankfully not dealing with a subject quite so dark as her earlier venture.  (Although that last statement could certainly be debated.)

EVERYONE ELSE tackles a relationship, and Ms Ade's film is up there with the best of the relation-
ship movies -- from Bergman's Scenes from a Marriage to Jeff Lipsky's Flannel Pajamas.  I'd say that the most important thing a filmmaker can bring to this kind of film is "choice."   Choice of actors, of course, but equally important choice of incident.  Creating a procession of scenes that will unveil, we hope with little undue exposition, who these people are and how they impact each other.   In the best of this kind of film --  which Everyone Else certainly is -- charac-
ter opens up so well that we find ourselves privy not only to the people on view but to their lives before the film started, even who their parents might be and how all this affects their relationship.

Ms Ade, because of her very smart selection process, as well as her writing and directorial skills, gives us this and more, in scenes that seem utterly real -- with behavior to match. As often happens in movies that offer full-bodied characters, our identification moves back and forth from one protagonist to the other.  Faults are revealed that can turn into strengths and then, given the situation, becomes negatives again.  Along the way, it becomes clear that these people are not a good match.  And yet...  So it is with many people we know in real life, including, most likely, ourselves and our spouses. But we make the best (and the worst, and much in between) of it all.  As do he two on view here: Chris (Lars Eidinger, above), who, among other characteristics, is a weak man, and Gitti (Birgit Minichmayr, below, left), who is both feisty and a "clinger."

Ade sets her film on the beautiful isle of Sardinia, during a vacation the couple is taking, and, as the old saw has it, if you can take a pleasant vacation together, your "couple status" is in pretty good shape.  If only.  Everything that happens here is so real, often seemingly insignificant but freighted with baggage -- the past, parents, tastes, jealousies and the like -- that the film accrues enormous impact as it moves along and yet never for a moment seems heavy-handed.  This is due to expert performances given by the two leads (supporting cast is fine, too) under Ade's guidance.

I don't want to say anymore here except see this film, and with your own significant other, if you've got the courage.  I suppose you might call Everyone Else the anti-date-movie of the year.  But not really. Facing stuff tends to be more salutary than ignoring it.

Everyone Else, a Cinema Guild presentation, opens Friday, April 9, in New York City at the IFC Center.  You can find the film's upcoming playdates in a few other cities here. Let's hope this excellent film, sure to appear on a bunch of "best lists" this winter, will be available to the public in more locations eventually.  Unrated; running time 120 minutes; in German with English subtitles.

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