Time Out saysFlatmates Jan (Daniel Brühl) and Peter (Stipe Erceg) have been close friends for ages – one reason the latter tolerates the former’s oddities and outbursts of anger. There’s also their shared secret: by night they break into the homes of holidaying rich folk, not to steal but to scare them out of their complacency by rearranging the contents and leaving sinister notes. Though Peter’s girlfriend Jule (Julia Jentsch) shares their hatred of capitalism, he hasn’t told her of these forays, but Jan, having fallen for her, lets the truth out while Peter’s in Barcelona, at which point she suggests visiting the villa of a fatcat to whom she owes a crippling debt. That’s when things start going horribly wrong…
It’s also when the film takes off. Till then, the deft if unremarkable portraits of three idealistic, politically disaffected young folk are marred by excessive emphasis on the growing intimacy between Jan and Jule, mostly played out as mushy music-accompanied montage (thrashing chords make these scenes no less dramatically mawkish). But when Hardenberg (Burghart Klaussner) turns up to find a couple of Edukators at work on his home, the situation becomes more complicated, the movie more complex. Room’s found, amid the suspense, for proper political/ethical discussion, emotional development and a broadening of themes explored, so that we get an engagingly human account of a changing world and changed individuals. It’s never preachy, often funny and touching and, while pointing to global injustice, wisely refrains from simplistic heroes and villains stereotypes. It’s still a pity about that music, though.