Thursday, November 12, 2009


Jerichow (Christian Petzold, 2009) [9]

A variation on The Postman Always Rings Twice, Jerichow is a different kind of neo-noir. The story is never really focused on the plot twists and surprises that populate noir but more by an evocative tone. Thomas (Benno Furmann) is a Afghan war vet back in his hometown with no money. By chance, he comes across Ali (Hilmi Sozer), a Turkish immigrant who owns a chain of snack shops and just happens to need a driver after getting busted for DUI. Thomas goes to work and earns the trust of Ali as well as becoming attracted to Ali's wife, Laura (Nina Hoss), a woman with a past of her own. The rest of the film settles on this simmering romance with Thomas and Laura with Ali left at the edges. It's a fairly standard noir plot but Petzold reworks the emotional ambiance of the story to a refreshing degree. The film has a detached, almost clinical eye to the story and its characters. Moments of passion, paranoia, and violence all play out the same way. The characters are beaten down but in different ways. Thomas and Laura have ended up in circumstances that as of a result of not having money, have created a situation with nowhere to go for them. Ali, while having a lot of money, is a victim of being a immigrant in a land that never really accepts him even with his wealth. He tells Thomas of going on a trip back to Turkey, where he and Laura are planning on permanently moving to. Or so Petzold lets you think. The only big revelation of the narrative comes after Ali returns from his trip and it shifts his character to a boozy, violent, unlikable man into someone that garners sympathy. Petzold is digging a little bit deeper than just into the passion of the characters and by examining race, wealth, and status, even briefly, he adds a dimension to Jerichow that I find appealing.

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