WEST (Christian Schwochow) *OPENING NIGHT FILM
West is one of a number of recent German films that have explored and reexamined the experience of life on both sides of formerly divided Germany. In late-1970s East Germany, Nelly Senff (Jordis Triebel) manages to secure an exit visa to West Germany, no easy task at that time. She is carrying her young son Alexej (Tristan Gobel) in tow; she pretends to be marrying someone in the West, but she is actually trying to restart her life after the death of her husband in Russia.
However, to her dismay, instead of a better life in West Germany, she must contend with life in a dreary refugee center, where the intrusive questioning by German and American agents, as well as the general atmosphere of paranoia and mistrust, seem not that much different from the environment she’s already escaped.
While West is graced by a strong performance by Triebel, and the film well captures the feel of the period, the plotting is too often muddled with frustrating loose ends, and we often feel at a remove from the protagonist. Ultimately it pales in comparison to Christian Petzold’s Barbara, another recent German film that deals with similar subject matter.
(June 12, 6pm)