Sunday, January 25, 2015

One-half of a German lesbian couple pines for a baby in Anne Zohra Berrached's TWO MOTHERS

If only both partners were as eager to have that child mentioned in the headline above, things might have gone differently than they do for the smart and likeable pair of women we meet in TWO MOTHERS (Zwei Mütter), the intelligent, fragmented, but deeply-felt German movie from Anne Zohra Berrached (shown below). Using a documentary style to view her protagonists and their somewhat circumscribed world, Ms Berrached, as director and writer (with some help from Michael Glasauer's script consulting), has come up with a very involving look at a lesbian relationship in the process of growing and perhaps foundering, as one of the two young women finds herself more and more drawn to the idea of having a baby. By any means possible.

Though the film takes place in Germany, a country most of us probably consider relatively progressive (nowhere near the Scandinavian level, however), it seems that -- when it comes to providing lesbian couples state-supported help, financial and/or otherwise -- this country has some learning left to do. The kind of obstacles the couple encounters are surprising -- for one thing fertility clinics that do not, under German law, offer treatment to non-heterosexuals -- and they impact everything from these women's well-being to their pocketbooks.

After exhausting all other avenues, the pair decides to try a sperm donor -- but one who will not insist on being both donor and father. This takes the film into yet further realms of surprise and even a little humor. While the women are played by two fine actresses -- Karina Plachetka (at left, above and below) and Sabine Wolf (at right, above and below) -- the other performers, at least according to what we find on the IMDB, appear to be playing themselves as doctors, donors, and people on the subway and/or street. This certainly adds to the verité quality of the film.

The dialog here seems particularly on the mark -- genuine without ever being "writerly" or overly sophisticated. As much as the movie documents the trials and the time these take before something actually happens, the filmmaker keeps the focus on our two women. This works well because they are at the heart of the drama, and it is their relationship we're rooting for -- at least until it becomes more and more clear that one woman wants what the other does not.

Along the way we meet a number of interesting people who figure into the tale, and as months and more months pass, tension builds and alternatives seems to disappear, while insemination after insemination goes by with nothing to show for them, other than reduced finances. There's a lovely little scene in which Ms Wolf meets, but briefly, an adorable little boy in the library, and we imagine that she may be changing her mind about chil-dren. Finally there's a fellow named Flo who applies as the possible donor, and things take a turn for better or worse, depending on your perspective.

The risks to a relationship when a surrogate is used is shown here to quite believable effect, and while the movie stops short of any actual closure, it is pretty clear where it -- and the relationship -- is headed. Two Mothers, from TLA Releasing under the Canteen Outlaws banner and running a very brief 75 minutes, hit the streets on DVD this past January 13.

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