Shifting the Blame

By Cory Haggart

Mailed on December 04, 2013

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Dear Darko Lovrinic

Dear Darko,

You can recognize a European film by the fact that most everything is made out of people. The heroes, the antagonists, the monsters, innocent bystanders--each one a person. I could not detect any CGI. There were no talking animals or extraterrestrials. And there's something compelling about that these days.

Because of these unusual decisions, Shifting the Blame _(Schuld sind immer die Anderen)* _feels stripped down, raw, and genuine. But never easy. Though all the parts are played by people, the standard roles themselves were thrown out, and everyone simply is. The story revolves around uncomfortable layers of revealed…people.

This is a first film by director Lars-Gunnar Lotz, and all the more impressive for it. It's an intimate work: the camera keeps close, the sky hangs heavy and grey, and the whole thing takes place in and around a single geography, Stuttgart. People are trapped and bound, even in the open country. Screenwriter Anna Prassler has wrought a balancing act with the script that I don't even totally understand. The acting always makes sense and feels honest, even as the actors play to multiple layers of tropes that flirt with becoming cliches. It almost doesn't matter what the movie is about. The style of telling and the skill of the script make the people and what they do fascinating.

The plot itself revolves around the anger, actions and resulting imprisonment of young Benjamin (played by Edin Hasanovic). He finds himself an unorthodox outpatient-style prison run by a complicated couple--Eva (Julia Brendler, brilliant) and Niklas (Marc Benjamin Puch, very very good). Benjamin's past is a secret, and like all movie secrets, it is truly terrible. People lie. Others are tormented. And yes, it totally sounds like a made-for-TV movie. If you watch the trailer, you will probably doubt every true thing I have ever written (don't watch the trailer). But despite, and because of all this, it is indeed an awesome little film.

Managing the production of a movie that doesn't go far into space and has no detectable animatronics or scale models probably makes your job a little easier, too. You probably just had to worry about getting everyone on set so they could do their thing. And such things they did! Well done sir.



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