Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Die Innere Sicherheit - 2000 film - review

The German film, Die Innere Sicherheit (English title: "The State I Am In"), directed by Christian Petzold, and released in 2000, follows the experiences of two former terrorists and their teenage daughter, as they live in hiding, on the run from the authorities, first in Portugal and later in Germany.

The daughter Jeanne (Julia Hummer) yearns to sample the delights, adventures and discoveries of adolescence, but this has the potential to imperil her parents. A lack of money, support and accommodation forces them to take some desperate and risky measures, and at times their plight is miserable and stark.

Jeanne is the focus of much of the movie, and to be frank I found the parents, Clara and Hans, to be somewhat one-dimensional characters.  Julia Hummer's performance as Jeanne is a revelation, conveying the sullen demeanour and rebelllious streak of a young person who has clearly grown up in an surreal, unconventional and bewildering world.

The tone of this picture is dark and insidious, and these patterns are intensified by the fact that much is left unsaid, unexplained or merely implied, and left to the imagination of the viewer. The imagery and the terse dialogue are left to paint the picture and reflect the narrative. The editing is creative, sharp and even disorientating, exacerbating the oppressive and bleak mood of the piece.

To me, the "political" dimension of the story was secondary to the human dramas enveloping Jeanne, as well as her parents. A strong sense is engendered that they are ostracized from a society which would not understood them even if it sought interaction. A soulless and uncaring world is depicted, the settings being suitably austere and unwelcoming. People did not know who they were, but would have detested and shunned them if they had known.

When the fortunes of the family are at their lowest ebb, we are confronted with some harrowing and mournful scenes. Often there is little sound or dialogue, just doleful, empty or confused facial expressions and emotions, as they contemplate how to circumvent the latest obstacle or impending crisis.

The ending to the movie is suitably brutal and pitiless, but I detected a modicum of poetic justice in the outcome for Jeanne, however tragic it immediately appeared.  We do not discover, of course, how things later turned out.

Overall, this is a thoughtful and atmospheric film. Absorbing and quite unusual, and well worth people's attention.

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