DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
EVERYONE ELSE (ALLE ANDEREN) (director/writer: Maren Ade; cinematographer: Bernhard Keller; editor: Heike Parplies; cast: Birgit Minichmayr (Gitti), Lars Eidinger (Chris), Nicole Marischka (Sana), Hans-Jochen Wagner (Hans); Runtime: 120; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Janine Jackowski/Dirk Engelhardt/Maren Ade; Cinema Guild; 2009-Germany-in German with English subtitles)

 
"Engrossing, talky, intimate romantic drama."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz 

The 33-year-old German director and writer Maren Ade ("The Forest for the Trees") helms an engrossing, talky, intimate romantic drama about a mismatched young German couple involved in a dynamic and tense relationship--supposedly thinking it's unlike other relationships--where they alternate between loving and bickering with each other, a complex relationship that will remain unclear where it's going, with each looking for approval from the other. It's always fascinating, somewhat penetrating and at times erotically poignant. The couple, a handsome, wimpy, fearful and pretentious struggling architect named Chris (Lars Eidinger) and a flighty, impulsive and sexually bold bikini -clad musical publicist named Gitti (Birgit Minichmayr), are taking a summer vacation together on the island of Sardinia and are staying at the kitsch filled, bourgeois villa of Chris' wealthy absentee folks.

The rash pint-sized Gitti and the gawky play-it-safe Chris get along fine when in their hermetic world, where they role-play, smartly tease each other and try to impress each other by showing off the skills the other doesn't possess.

When Gitti wants to go disco dancing, Chris doesn't and at home dances in an annoying spastic mocking way to the Willie Nelson–Julio Iglesias '80s classic hit "To All the Girls I've Loved Before." In the opening scene Chris and Gitti are minding his married sister's two children and the six-year-old girl shows a dislike for Gitti. This spurs Gitti to an act of bad parenting, as she can't handle the slight from the little girl in a reasonable way.

Though the couple talk constantly to each other they can't spill out their repressed fears and insecurities, yet show a tenderness in love making. But it's telling that Chris can't even tell her he lost out on an architectural competition to build a museum that he sorely wanted, while she frets about her looks and is upset she bought an attractive dress that might be too bourgeois.

At the film's mid-point, another German couple surfaces that he was trying to avoid--Hans (Hans-Jochen Wagner) and Sana (Nicole Marischka). They are mirror images of them except they are happy together, both successful in their careers (she's a clothing designer, he's a former college classmate of Chris and documentary artist), she's pregnant with their first child and  looks approvingly at hubby. Chris values Hans' approval even more than Gitti's, which turns things dangerously tense when a kitchen knife is shockingly brandished (bringing an unexpected response that was not satisfactorily clarified for me what that was about). At a barbecue over at the established married couple's place and a return invite for dinner with Chris and Gitti at his parents' home, brings to the surface the problems of the struggling couple and gives the third act a disconcerting jolt in which way their troubled relationship is going--a relationship that's in an Eden-like setting, but has a worm in the apple.

The sublime film hints at digging into the similar themed edgy relationship pics such as Rossellini's "Voyage to Italy" (1954), Ingrid Bergman's "Scenes From a Marriage" (1973) and Jean Eustache's "The Mother and the Whore" (1973).

Everyone Else is a so-called "Berlin School" film from the new generation of German filmmakers, a film that is looking for new parameters that might guide those looking for more risky and perhaps more rewarding relationships than conventional ones. Fitting in is what the testy couple says they don't want; but, on the other hand, there's something magical in the air that is conjured up in the searching couple's attempt to find their own way despite their constant pain, flaws, and feelings of disillusionment over their love experience when things break down for them and they can't look at each other. It might not be a totally enjoyable viewing experience (the couple is just not that likable), but the theater trained actor leads give bang-up naturalistic performances and Ms. Ade intelligently leaves us much to decipher on our own that makes this one of the more discriminating relationship pics.

REVIEWED ON 10/16/2010       GRADE: A-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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