Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Unavailable in the U.S., the second film by the Berlin School’s leading light and his first collaboration with actress Nina Hoss, star of his art-house hit Barbara, is a slow-burning thriller that uses the relationship between a hit-and-run driver and the victim’s mother to examine the role of chance in people’s lives and the existential malaise of modern Germany. Upwardly mobile car salesman Philipp (Benno Fuermann) seems to have it made—high-pressure job, perfect house and beautiful fiancée, Katja (Antje Westermann), who happens to be his boss’s sister. But Katja has her doubts about Philipp, and when he runs down a boy on a bicycle and drives on, his life begins to unravel. After the boy’s death, his struggling single mother Laura (Nina Hoss), who works in a retail warehouse, sets out to track down his killer, but after a chance meeting between hunter and hunted, a cautious romantic relationship develops, with the guilty Philipp setting out to find a better job for the unknowing Laura. Petzold’s exploration of the nature of work and economics in today’s Germany is echoed in the film’s title, which invokes the factory town where Volkswagen is based.