Longing (Sehnsucht) (2006)
Directed by Valeska Grisebach
Starring Andreas Mller, Ilka Welz, Anett Dornbusch
Longing is supposedly based on a true story and concerns Markus, a part time fireman, his devoted young wife and a bar maid who lives in another small town.
Markus is deeply upset after being first at the scene of a car crash, he does his best to save the people involved only to later find out that they had intended to die. Subsequently death and suicide begin to preoccupy his mind.
A training trip with his fellow part time firemen to another town ends with Markus waking up in a barmaids bed with no recollection of how he got there or whether anything had happened between them. Despite his lack of memory he embarks in an on/off affair with her while his loving wife literally has to beg him to take her to bed. Things take a drastic turn after an accident which brings the thoughts of suicide back to Markuss mind leaving his own life hanging in the balance.
For the first half hour or so the film brings the Dardenne brothers to mind, everything has a down to earth realism to it, you get the feel of a living breathing community, which is probably the case. From the firemen to the womens choir, it all has an air of authenticity. There are major problems though, for the love triangle the director appears to have picked people who are virtually nondescript in looks and personality, they also lacked any form of charisma. Saying the characters were bland would be a complement. The story lacked any definition, detail or depth, I wouldnt have wanted a Hollywood style set-up but almost everything here was underplayed to an almost comatose level.
As far as the relationships were concerned, neither had a genuine feel to them, the closest you got to a real sense of emotion was in a small moment between Markus and his sons pet rabbit.
The film rounds off with a group of youngish boys and girls continuing the story, again there is a lack of clarity in the telling and you are left with the impression that the whole story has been told in this way, as though the director is using this to excuse the lack of definition within the actual plot.
I loved the air of reality within the village, thought the camera work was very good, giving it a pseudo documentary feel, but felt that so much more could have and should have been done with the central characters.
BBFC rated 15
R2 dvd to be released at a future date by BFI.