Monday, May 18, 2009

Jerichow (GERMAN)

Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Chauffeur Dates the Boss’ Wife in Grim, German Remake of Film Noir Classic

After Thomas (Benno Furmann) inherits his mother’s house, he decides to return to his hometown to live. However, tiny Jerichow is located in a desolate region of northeastern Germany presently plagued by economic plight. So, as a dishonorably-discharged soldier, the almost broke bachelor finds it next to impossible to find any employment.
Salvation arrives in the person of Ali (Hilmi Sozer), a Turkish businessman Thomas who owns a chain of snack bars. Although Ali is generally suspicious of people, for some reason he takes a liking to the strapping young stranger. And against his better judgment, he offers him a job as his chauffeur and personal assistant. This means that Thomas now must not only spend a lot of time around his middle-aged boss, but will often be in the company of his benefactor’s restless, neglected and considerably-younger wife, Laura (Nina Hoss).
Needless to say, this proves to be a recipe for disaster, as sparks fly between Thomas and the fetching femme fatale. Naïve Ali unwittingly trusts them both, even going so far as encouraging them to dance romantically with each other at the beach. Subsequently, the two secretly rendezvous and embark on a steamy affair before they start contemplating ways of moving Ali out of the picture entirely.
This is the ominous premise established in Jerichow, a well-crafted crime caper directed by Christian Petzold (Yella). Although Petzold also takes a writing credit for the picture, the picture might be better thought of as a German remake of The Postman Always Rings Twice.
Even if you’re familiar with the plotline of that 1946 classic, this variation on the theme is nonetheless worthwhile for the visual capture of the cinematography alone. For the compelling action unfolds against an array of bracing backdrops, a sumptuous mix of natural settings. From a verdant forest to the empty expanse of the rolling plain to a scenic seashore topped by a cliff that could provide the perfect launching pad for the feloniously-inclined.
How do you say “Three’s a crowd” auf Deutsch?

Excellent (4 stars)
In German and Turkish with subtitles.
Running time: 88 minutes
Studio: Cinema Guild

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