27 April 2010

Everyone Else

Written & Directed by Maren Ade
Full credits at IMDb

Aside from its Godard-y opening credits and the Eden-ness of its sun-splashed Sardinian setting, Everyone Else (Alle Anderen), so Bergman-esque it could warrant the alternate title Scenes from a Coupling, isn’t particularly cinematic—it’s theatrical. Not only are its one-on-one scenes predominantly dialogue-driven, but it’s a through-and-through actor’s piece: two hours of talk and small, subtext-revealing gestures. Chris (Lars Eidinger) and Gitti (Birgit Minichmayr) constitute the young, holidaying German couple around whom the film revolves; he’s a taciturn moodyman, she’s his loquacious girlfriend. With a forthrightness at odds with Swanberg and his ilk’s hemming hawers, the two engage in conversations that swerve from playful teasing to curt putdowns; their idylls curdle into spats born of selfishness that are soon forgotten. Or, are they? He becomes embarrassed of their private jokes and yearns for a “normal” girl; she wants a man who loves her, who doesn’t respond to her intimate confessions of affection with a passionate but promiseless kiss. The film unfolds in two acts, a love's rise and fall, though it’s easy to spot the fissures in the relationship throughout: you see it in certain glances, or hear it in certain inflections; you just know these kids ain’t gonna make it. The film's genius lies in its recognition of a cumulative effect: every scene builds on the last in not-so-obvious ways and leaves you thinking, “ah, yes! Perfect,” wincing with discomfort at the duo's subtle interplay. Everyone Else is so expertly and casually performed you’re left wondering: is its totally-nailed portrait of a relationship the result of brilliant scripting? Or carefully edited improvisations? To whom do we deliver the accolades? Grade: B+

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