Reviews

Abendland

4

Few would call Fred Keleman's austere German arthouse films (Fate, Frost) a breeze, but there's no doubting the intensity of this episodic tale of love-on-the-turn. We meet Anton (Wolfgang Michael) and Leni (Verena Jasch) when life has locked him out and she's still up for dancing. Over one arduous night, this carping couple split and head for the backstreets, bars and brothels of some squalid any-town, where numerous grotesque encounters with the nightfolk leave them scarred; emotionally, literally and probably for good.

If Keleman's bleak worldview seems almost wilful, with its random cruelties and images of burden, what keeps it from mere pocket-book pessimism is his uniquely potent mix of grim surrealist fantasy with dank realism and near-religious parable.

It's an unforgiving cine-poem of despair, all hauntingly spare images and long takes that suck you in as surely as the lack of any get out clause keeps you there. Tough going, but mesmerising all the same.

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