Thursday, January 28, 2010

Jerichow: a love triangle from Germany (with little politics)

I would have thought “Jerichow” might be a political film, as the central character has returned home to a town by that name in northeast Germany from the earlier war in Afghanistan against the Soviets. There is a little about social morality here as the script even mentions mandatory military service. And Thomas (Benno Furmann) has to admit a bug skeleton in his closet: a dishonorable discharge. This sort of set up would normally lend itself to American film.

But his street smarts enable Thomas to sell himself to Ali, a Turkish owner of a snack-bar chain, who has lost his driver’s license to DUI. He becomes Ali’s driver and eventually gets a hand in the business, as well as Ali’s young and morally dubious wife Laura (Nina Hoss). The love triangle ensues, and pretty soon a plot emerges.

The "Making of.." short on the DVD mentions the issue of "wage labor" and regimented manual labor, which the lettuce picking scene (where Thomas with other workers lays down on the floor of a thrasher going across the field and picks the items, with a supervisor above) demonstrates visually. But again, Thomas has been disgraced (although the director in the short says he has little actual history).

The climax of the story will involve the scenery, the cliffs along the Baltic Sea, with some foreshadowing. Ali, we learn, has little time left, but maybe Thomas can self-destruct.

The German film(2008) is directed by Christian Petzhold, and is distributed by Cinema Guild, which offers this trailer:

Wikipedia attribution link for NASA picture of Baltic Sea

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