QUICK AND DIRTY: LIVE FROM BERLIN
Based on Daniela Krien’s eponymous novel, the sixth feature film by Franco-German-Iranian filmmaker Emily Atef takes place in the year of 1990 in Thuringia (in the former DDR). Families are being reunited after spending decades apart. An overwhelming sense of change intoxicates those used to an uneventful and menial existence in the countryside, with many promptly moving the the West in search of pastures green. Extremely beautiful 19-year-old Maria (Marlene Burow) lives with her boyfriend Johannes (Cedric Eich) and her in-laws, the kind and affectionate Brendels. She too is seeking a challenging novelty, but that does not require her to leave the sleepy village. She begins a fiery relationship with a 40-year-old farmer living just down the road: the equally handsome and churlish Henner (Felix Kramer).
What Maria and Henner have in common is that they both come from a very dysfunctional family. Henner’s father was an SS-officer who eventually committed suicide, while his mother abandoned him in order to move to Russia. He grew up on his own as a hermit, his farm virtually fossilised in time. Maria’s background is also very unorthodox. Her father abandoned the family in order to marry a woman half his age, leaving her mother employed and desperate to make ends meet. Maria first approaches Henner in search of money in exchange for sexual favours. At first, Henner seems like a heartless brute, but he gradually allows his resistances to collapse one by one, revealing a deeply vulnerable human being. Maria is the strong one. Her will and determination are illustrated in one of the film’s first sequences, when Depeche Mode’s Behind the Wheel plays as Maria and Johannes drive through the countryside. In the song lyrics, Dave Gahan’s masculine voice begs his “little girl” to take control of him.
Maria spends an increasing amount of time with Hennes. She tells her boyfriend Johannes that she’s seeing her mother, and vice-versa. She rejects his sexual advances, blaming her period and an incessant headache for her lack of carnal desire. Johannes is a sensitive artist who dreams of a place at an art school in Leipzig. He suspects that something is wrong, but does not push Maria too hard, instead quietly respecting the distance that she opted to keep. But Maria knows that she has taken too many risks and it’s just a question of time because the cat is out of the bag. She also understands that the consequences could be catastrophic (particularly for the increasingly fragile and erratic Hennes). Maria is willing to confront society and challenges old orthodoxies, but Henner is unprepared to do so. Will she have the strength to pull them both though the storm?
This 129-minute drama with an equally long title is neither particularly inventive nor subversive. This is a forbidden love story you’ve seen many times before. The sex scenes are credible and steamy, and strangely moving. This is a movie about a young and seemingly weak woman taking the helms (or getting behind the wheel) of an older and seemingly stronger man. She is bursting with passion and raw desire. But the sex scenes get a little repetitive after the fifth time. The vast countryside landscape is mostly covered with grain fields. It offers Maria and Henner’s tense romance with some respite. The local animals and vegetation are the only witnesses to their impossible love.
Someday We’ll Tell Each Other Everything is showing in Competition at the 73rd Berlin International Film Festival. The Match Factory is looking after the film’s international sales.