Requiem (12A)

Film

Thrillers

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Time Out says

Posted: Fri Oct 27 2006

Based on the same, documented ‘demonic possession’ as the crude shocker ‘The Exorcism of Emily Rose’, Hans-Christian Schmid’s restrained, naturalistic drama foregoes clichés and supernatural trappings and achieves a more involving emotional intensity and troubling metaphysical ambiguity. Emily Rose was merely a suffering victim. By contrast, ‘Requiem’ centres on an extraordinary portrayal of 21-year-old Michaela by stage actress Sandra Hüller, who is convincing as the confused epileptic who experiences seizures and hallucinations.

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.
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Release details

Rated:

12A

UK release:

Fri Nov 17, 2006

Duration:

93 mins

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3.1 / 5

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MS

What a self-absorbed, tedious and pointless exercise this is. At the end of two long hours, the viewer is left hanging with only a footnote from the director as the fate of the 'heroine'. I was left, rather like the priests and doctors in this film ~ in a haze of disbelief. The only thing in its favour is the absence of sensational special effects.

Bob Novak

Viewing this film, I almost felt I was viewing a chapter from my own life. In 1988, I escaped a dysfunctional family and the constant condemnation of an overbearing parent by going away to college, only to find myself, like Michaela, staring at four walls and hearing voices in my head. Like Michaela, I turned to drinking to silence the voices. I, too, found companionship among worldly friends whom, while they may have seemed to love me, would never be able to understand me. Like Requeim's heroine, I also found myself confused by relationships with the opposite sex. Yet, somehow, I managed to pull out of it just short of the complete breakdown she suffered. Modern American viewers will probably not understand the ardent catholicism portrayed in the film, nor will they comprehend the heroine's choice of faith over rationality (science, medicine) in the end. The importance, in the end, is that it was, finally, HER choice, not somebody else's, as to how she should percieve her condition and her situation. That the choice ultimately destroyed her may seem ironic to some, but, to me, it seems, in submission and destruction she ultimately may have found liberation. This film is exceptionally well-crafted and realistic in its portrayal of mental illness, and of a young person's struggle to make sense of a world beyond the dysfunctional family that shaped her.

Bob Novak

Viewing this film, I almost felt I was viewing a chapter from my own life. In 1988, I escaped a dysfunctional family and the constant condemnation of an overbearing parent by going away to college, only to find myself, like Michaela, staring at four walls and hearing voices in my head. Like Michaela, I turned to drinking to silence the voices. I, too, found companionship among worldly friends whom, while they may have seemed to love me, would never be able to understand me. Like Requeim's heroine, I also found myself confused by relationships with the opposite sex. Yet, somehow, I managed to pull out of it just short of the complete breakdown she suffered. Modern American viewers will probably not understand the ardent catholicism portrayed in the film, nor will they comprehend the heroine's choice of faith over rationality (science, medicine) in the end. The importance, in the end, is that it was, finally, HER choice, not somebody else's, as to how she should percieve her condition and her situation. That the choice ultimately destroyed her may seem ironic to some, but, to me, it seems, in submission and destruction she ultimately may have found liberation. This film is exceptionally well-crafted and realistic in its portrayal of mental illness, and of a young person's struggle to make sense of a world beyond the dysfunctional family that shaped her.