The emerging popularity of German Cinema, at least in the international markets, could perhaps more easily be linked with an actor, rather than a bevy of talented young filmmakers. Daniel Brhl, the star of the breakthrough hit Goodbye Lenin! (2003), has become a much sought after commodity (not unlike Mexican actor Gael Garca Bernal), and many of his subsequent films, including The Edukators (2004) and Joyeux Nol (2005), have received the sort of attention that they probably wouldnt have otherwise. Brhl's presence in the breathtakingly beautiful Love in Thoughts (Was ntzt die Liebe in Gedanken), arguably his best so far, has most likely helped it to reach our shores, though without much attention. Directed by Achim von Borries, the film starts off as a whodunit as we watch a young man (Brhl) being interrogated by the police about his involvement in a suicide case. But then it slowly materializes as something quite unique: a sexually charged, yet unabashedly poetic story about requited love and its tragic implications. Paul, the aforementioned detainee who happens to be a gifted poet, narrates the proceedings which, set in 1927, mostly unfold over a weekend at the summer cottage belonging to the bourgeois parents of his best friend Gnther (August Diehl) and his beautiful, bohemian sister Hilde (Anna Maria Mhe). As these "dreamers" succumb to their beauteous surroundings, so does Borries camera with Malick-esque naturalism, requiring every streak of light and sound to exude sensuality amid threatening to unbalance the emotional equilibrium. The trio are eventually joined by their friends from Berlin, setting up the stage for a party sequence which should draw comparisons with one from Assayas LEau froide (1994). The constantly shifting dynamics, as someone else enters the picture claiming loyalties from both Gnther and Hilde, are beautifully played out in an environment which turns out to be at once both vast and claustrophobic. Love in Thoughts is based on a true story (reportedly a notorious one), which is bound to heighten ones attention to certain details, so perhaps it wouldve been better off as being timeless, much like love.
*LOVE IN THOUGHTS premiered at the 2004 Sundance film festival before playing at the Berlin fest. The film didn't receive theatrical distribution in the U.S., but it's now available on DVD from Wolfe Video.