This film won the Best Film and two acting prizes at the European Film Awards 2016. It is also being considered for the Academy Awards and the UK BAFTAS. And it is one of three titles in line for the European Parliament’s Lux Prize.
The film was screened at the closing night of the 2016 Leeds International Film Festival. It is a long film, running for 162 minutes. It also has a very open narrative: the resolution is ambiguous and there are aspects of character and situation that are unexplained and/or unresolved.
“…it’s full of surprises, very warm and touching and frequently hilarious.” (LIFF Catalogue).
It does hold the interest, partly because of the central performances of Peter Simonischek as Winfried alias Toni and Sandra Hüller as his daughter Ines. The film moves from Germany to Romania and from the comic to the dramatic and back and forth between these modes. Writer and director Maren Ade generally handles this very well though at times I found the opacity of the narrative slightly problematic. Ade includes a strong set of social themes, which I think is one reason for the film’s critical success. Sight & Sound placed it first in its top twenty films of 2016.
Definitely to be seen but prepare for a possible challenging two and half hours.
European audiences could vote for the film for the Lux Prize [including British citizens as we are still in the European Union]. There are two other finalist films; My Life as a Courgette / Ma vie de Courgette (France 2016), an animated film which was late addition to the Leeds International Film Festival programme; and As I Open My Eyes / À peine j’ouvre les yeux (Tunisia, France, Belgium, United Arab Emirates 2015). Unfortunately My Life as a Courgette seems to only have had the LIFF screening so far. And there is no sign of As I Open My Eyes at all. Final straw, the voting ended on January 31st!