Thursday, April 26, 2018

The "mother" of psychology? Cordula Kablitz-Post's bio-pic, LOU ANDREAS-SALOME: THE AUDACITY TO BE FREE, opens in theaters

The name Lou Andreas-Salomé, if it has any associations at all for most Americans, may bring cursorily to mind Freud and late 19th/early 20th Century mitteleuropa. That's what popped into TrustMovies' purview, at least, when he first heard about this new film. LOU ANDREAS-SALOME: THE AUDACITY TO BE FREE, co-written (with Susanne Hertel) and directed by Cordula Kablitz-Post, shown below, is quite a marquee mouthful, as well as an eyeful visually. It's a beautifully produced movie, full of color, costumes, lovely locations and the marvelous use -- for both creative and budgetary reasons, I would guess -- of old-fashioned picture-postcard views of historic locations which the characters seem to suddenly occupy and even move through. This is at once enchanting, humorous and smart.

Ms Kablitz-Post offers us quite a mouthful of intelligent dialog, too -- and because subsidiary characters include the likes of Friedrich Nietzsche, as well as poets Rainer Maria Rilke and Paul Rée, the dialog is for the most part intelligent and occasionally thought-provoking. Lou (as we'll call her from this point on) was a feminist before the term was coined. Perhaps, as seems to be the case in the filmmaker's view, she was also less interested in the rights of women than in the rights of Lou Andreas-Salomé. One of the strengths of the movie is that it does provide a warts-and-all picture of our heroine, who was highly unconventional in her own time and might very well seem so in the minds of many today.

Lou is played -- as child, teenager, adult and senior -- by four different actresses, with concentration on the latter two categories, with Katharina Lorenz (above, as adult) and especially Nicole Heesters (below, as the senior version) very good in bringing Lou to life.

As for the men who flock 'round her, as storied as some of their reputations may be, the manner in which they're represented here make these "boys" seem not simply callow but also none too bright. Well, golly, that's what love can do, I guess. (Below is Alexander Scheer as Nietzsche, and further below is Philipp Hauß as pudgy poet Paul Rée. At bottom is Julius Feldmeier as the youthful Rilke, whom, as told here, Lou had a hand in renaming to something that sounds more masculine.)

I wish that Kablitz-Post has concentrated a bit more on her heroine's ideas and less on her love life, which, while maybe unusual, has the film leaning a little too much toward soap opera for its own good. Still, I knew so little about Lou going into the movie that I certainly learned something overall.

A student of Sigmund Freud, and it would seem a particularly challenging one, Lou became the first female psychoanalyst. As demonstrated by Ms Heester's fierce intelligence and strength, it appears that she was a very good one, too.

While, Lou Andreas-Salome, The Audacity to Be Free may not be the last word, cinematically, on this unusual woman, it is certainly not a bad place to begin one's exploration. Performances are fine all 'round, and visually the movie's a treat -- even if it promises more than it delivers.

From Cinema Libre Studio, in German, Italian and Russian with English subtitles and running 113 minutes, the movies opened in New York City last week at the Village East Cinema (its last day is today) and hits Los Angeles tomorrow, April 27, at Laemmle's Royal, with additional cities and playdates expected to follow.

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