Lazy summer days in Everyone Else
by Bénédicte Prot
09/02/2009 - Everyone Else [trailer, film focus], the second feature by 32-year-old director Maren Ade, following her multiple award-winning The Forest for the Trees, received an unenthusiastic press response at its competition screening at the Berlinale this morning.
This linear film centres on German couple Chris (Lars Eidinger) and Gitti (Birgit Minichmayr, who also stars in Wolfgang Murnberger’s cynical and burlesque Austrian film The Bone Man [trailer], in the Panorama section). On holiday in Sardinia, they either spend their time alone or in the company of a couple of friends whose relationship naturally inspires different perceptions of their own union.
The scenes unfold one after the other to the sound of cicadas, sometimes revealing the couple’s harmony (such as when they make a little figure called Schnappi out of ginger, when they fool around or conspire against the intrusive Hans) but often betraying their disagreements and frustrations (the early scene where Chris almost throws Gitti out of the bed, the moments when he grows tired of her fooling around and the evening when he leaves her to go and get drunk with Hans).
Ade’s slow-paced film paints the portrait of a typical couple. He is indecisive, a bit cowardly in front of others (to the point of making fun of Gitti and his own mother in the company of their friends) and before Gitti’s declarations of love. Like all men, he doesn’t understand what she is trying to express. She is a bit too insistent, asks for more attention than he can give her and, like all women, is prone to being slightly hysterical.
In the end, whether they like it or not, the two form an entity with its own codes and idiosyncrasies, a world to which only they have the key.
This cinematic portrait of a couple in their thirties contains many familiar elements without succumbing to cliché. However, viewers are left with a strong impression of the idleness of that Italian summer, which the director could perhaps have depicted more concisely. For when you’re in a movie theatre rather than in the sunshine, the spectacle of such idleness is less enjoyable.
(Translated from French)