“I can’t live like this…”
This film, filmed in Frankfurt, Germany (and some other cool places) is set in a dystopian future. It was directed by Lisa Charlotte Friederich (who is such badass bitch, which I mean to the highest respect possible) and the story follows police woman Claire and her brother Aurel who are both trumpeters. In this new world order, humans are no longer allowed to meet in groups, touch one another, smoke (or anything else that’s fun) as it is prohibited. There are strict curfews in place and the consequences of going against these are dire.
At the offset of the film, we see both Claire and Aurel (who live in the city/country respectively) performing at virtual gigs using VR technology. Before long we are taken to the scene of a crime where around 20 people are dead. It is clear that they had organised some kind of gathering and are referred to as “terrorists” by ‘The Institute’ (a sort of police surveillance entity); although I didn’t quite understand how they came to die, only that this was clearly the aforementioned consequences of breaking the rules. (I might have missed that… Honestly… I was making a snack!) I do really like it when you don’t have all the answers handed to you though, so I personally really liked the omission.
Claire heads to the country and inspired by the actions of the ‘terrorists’, talks her brother and two friends into organising a live gig. Did they make it happen? Did they get away with it? Well, you’ll have to watch the film won’t you?!
The most striking thing about the film is the music. The film features an excellent soundtrack, produced by Rike Huy and Jooseten Ellee. It’s a mix of electronic synth, jazz and classical and is incredibly well done and beautiful. Both the story and the music fit like a glove together. At one point I remember thinking “how can they make a single repeated synth note make me feel so tense right now?!” Because they’re wizards, that’s how. It’s the only explanation.
The city sections of the film were very disparate cinematically from the later country scenes, and I really liked that. The city was dark and sultry, smokey, almost bleakly monochrome; I personally got some film noir vibes from it. Claire lived in a Brutalist cement building that gave the impression she was metaphorically living in a prison cell which seemed to reflect the consensus in the city. In the country where Aurel lived, everything was much more open including the people; the shots seemed wider, the buildings more airy, the greens greener.
I really enjoyed the strange dynamic between the two siblings. There was this strong competitive feeling from both of them (including relating to sexual conquest) which you can see from the beginning scene where both are performing and the camera slices from one performance to the other. It was actually really interesting seeing the Q&A afterwards with the director because she mentioned that she was very influenced by Cain and Abel and I definitely see that mirrored in the story. She also mentioned that she wanted to illustrate how talent is not always fairly distributed and that was explored in a musical way. Perhaps that inequality is part of the reason their relationship is so strained. The relationship between Claire and her mother is also cold and distant, and their interactions make Claire seem very vulnerable.
The subject area of the film itself is obviously really topical right now, with so much of the world in COVID-19 lockdown, though interestingly the director created the film in response to terrorist attacks in Europe.
All in all, I really enjoyed the film. The concept is original and brilliant, and had these 1984/totalitarianism vibes going on. The film made me feel this inner dread throughout like I was waiting for something bad to happen but the ending was quite unexpected. I didn’t think the film was super polished but I know the director made the film on a very strict budget so that’s totally understandable. Really good storyline, amazing soundtrack, an excellent first SciFi London 2020 film of the year. Definitely well worth a watch.
The film is available here if you want to watch it, but you’ll need to buy a film or festival pass.