Time Out rating:
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Time Out says
Tue Apr 27 2010Austrian director Götz Spielmann’s impressively mounted, quietly moody film is as much an attempt at social and ethical enquiry as it is a revenge crime thriller. Alex and Tamara – couple one – are an ex-jailbird and indebted prostitute, respectively, working in a sleazy Viennese brothel, set on bank robbery as the only way out. Robert and Suzanne – couple two – an honest policeman and his wife, have created a middle-class, if childless, dream of a house in the rural Waldviertel, whose clean lines contrast with the ramshackle farm of old Hausner, Alex’s ailing grandfather, across the way. Contrasts and comparisons are the rule, as Spielmann’s slow-burning movie contrives – in an acceptable, rather than predictable, fashion – to combine the fates of the two couples, following the first pair’s calamitous post-robbery getaway.
That story isn’t the be-all-and-end-all in Spielmann’s movie is obvious. Plot coincidences are declared; characters are placed plainly in convenient earshot of significant dialogue. It’s physical, emotional and moral parallels, dichotomies and ironies he’s after – and the light they may throw on our notions of revenge, guilt and restitution, together with subtler shafts on class and gender, home and family, secular transgression and Christian sin. It’s an open work: suggestive rather than conclusive; grave, without being heavy; thoughtful, rather than deep – but also too vague and finally unsatisfying. It’s boosted, however, by a set of affecting, low-key realist performances – notably that of Johannes Krisch as the ‘uncouth’ Alex – and enriched by some superbly lit images by cinematographer Martin Gschlacht.
Author: Wally Hammond