When Michaela belatedly enters university, she is separated for the first time from her loving father, controlling mother and God-fearing rural community. Reluctantly befriended by the worldly Hanna (Anna Blomeier), Michaela tries to forge an independent identity. But her secretive and erratic behaviour stretches even her new boyfriend’s patience to the limit. She stops eating, comes off her medication and suffers a breakdown. Back in the stifling bosom of her family, she re-embraces the comforting certainties of her faith and submits to a series of exorcisms by a young priest.
Casually evoking its 1970s German setting through clothing and music (Deep Purple, Amon Düül), Schmid intelligently explores the complex societal, familial and religious pressures that Michaela is unable to reconcile. Yet Bernd Lange’s delicately balanced screenplay also leaves open the possibility that her fits and visions may be signs of a genuine ‘possession’. Quietly devastating and unbearably moving, this is a soul-searching classic.