Jerichow Directed by: Christian Petzold Cast: Benno Fürmann, Nina Hoss, Hilmi Sözer Running Time: 1 hr 30 mins Rating: Unrated Release Date: June 26, 2009
Plot: Thomas (Fürmann) returns home after his mother passes away but finds he can't escape his creditors. Broke and unemployed, he helps Ali (Sözer) out of a jam and earns his trust. Then he sees Laura (Hoss), Ali's wife and falls in lust with her. Though she's attracted to Thomas, she refuses to leave her husband, creating an unstable love triangle.
Who’s It For? Viewers with patience, who enjoy slow paced foreign films.
Expectations: The film was described as a thriller so I was expecting something exciting.
Actors: Benno Fürmann as Thomas: A man of few words and fewer expressions, Thomas plays a passive role in his own life. After being dishonorably discharged from the army, he has neither money nor a job. Desperate, he finds a job with Ali (Sözer) a Turkish immigrant who runs a chain of snack shops. But he's really interested in Ali's wife, Laura (Hoss). Fürman's a good looking guy, especially with his shirt off. But otherwise, I don't know why Laura would be interested. Besides being passive, he just doesn't seem to care. As long as he has some beer money, he's good. Not a scintillating performance. Score: 4
Nina Hoss as Laura: Hoss masters the art of looking put upon as Laura, Ali's wife and Thomas' love interest. Despite looking like a younger version of Frau Farbissina from the Austin Powers films, she immediately captures Thomas's heart, or some other organ. I had a hard time guessing Laura's motivation. Does she get together with Thomas because she cares for him, or because he's there? Hoss gives a restrained performance, and I could have used a little more passion from her. When she isn't on top of Thomas, she seems almost indifferent to him. To believe in their passion, I needed a little more from both sides. Score: 6
Hilmi Sözer as Ali Özkan: As restrained as Thomas is, Ali is the opposite. He's drunk, dancing, yelling or hitting at almost every moment of the film. Ali isn't really a likable character, he's insanely paranoid even when he's sober and he's a jerk to his wife. But Sözer makes him a compelling force in the film. Though the other characters wanted to avoid him, I was glad for every scene he was in, he definitely livened up the place. His motivations are clear too, which was a relief after trying to figure out what Thomas and Laura are thinking all the time. Score: 7
Talking: It's pretty minimal, Thomas and Laura don't say much. Ali's pretty chatty though. Occasionally funny, but mostly it's just straight and dull. Score: 6
Sights: Jerichow, the titular setting of the film, is reasonably scenic, with a beach and some really beautiful trees. Still, though the scenery looks good, there aren't a lot of beauty shots in the film. Score: 5/10
Sounds: I didn't notice a score at all. I hope I'm not forgetting something. There was some ethnic music played at certain points in the film, pretty much whenever Ali had control of a radio. And/or was drunk. Score: 5/10
Best Scene: Thomas is walking home from the store when a car careens into the river. This is Ali's introduction. It's not as entertaining as when a bus comes out of nowhere to suddenly hit a character, but still good stuff.
Ending: Too easy. Everything just falls into place for Thomas and Laura because Ali does everything for them, even killing himself off. Though if he just got tired of their inability to kill him off and did it just so he'd be rid of them, I can kind of understand that.
Questions: Why does Thomas care so much for Laura? Why does Laura care for Thomas?
Rewatchability: Most of the allure in finishing the film was seeing where the thing went. Now that I've done that, I don't think there'd be a reason to watch it again.
OVERALL I didn't hate this movie. But after finishing Jerichow I feel a little cheated. Thomas' passion for Laura just confused me, he went after her from the moment he saw her, but he doesn't seem to care about anything else. They never really seem to connect other than physically. I could accept that if they filled in the blanks a little, but so little is revealed about either character that makes their relationship credible. When Laura finally tells him her story, it seems anticlimactic. It doesn't make her behavior make sense. I could try to come up with reasons she's with Thomas, but not why they're willing to risk so much to stay together. Their plan feels like something two teenagers would come up with after watching a lot of movies. Jerichow isn't awful, but it is mundane. Maybe that's worse.
Final Score: 5/10