Director: Maren Ade
Year Released: 2009
A relationship between a dour architect (Lars Eidinger) and a silly concert promoter (Birgit Minichmayr) is literally and figuratively on the rocks (here, hiking is a metaphor) while on vacation in Sardinia, making this two hours of waiting for their frail union to completely fracture. Ade, who made the excellent Forest from the Trees, spares us (for the most part) the shouting matches and hysteria that sever couples in American cinema - she understands that it's usually a lot of the little problems and quarrels that build up over time that lead to resentment and disillusionment - but with this 'subtle,' 'mature' approach the movie can't shake itself out of its unfortunate stagnation: what, exactly, is the appeal of seeing two people who are probably not right for each other 'stick with it' when they should do the sensible thing and move on? (If hearing people bicker in real life isn't desirable, why would it be on screen? And wasn't Hemingway the one who said you should never travel with someone you didn't love?) It's unclear what leads to Eidinger's turn-around at the end (he goes from condoms and refusing to use the "L" word to bareback sex and lovey-doveys galore) and why Minichmayr suddenly gets tired of her boyfriend's prickliness when she seems immune to his grumpiness for most of the movie (that attempted suicide must have shaken a screw loose), but I will say that Ade is good with offbeat endings: if the entire movie had the same kind of beautiful ambiguity as its last ten minutes (and, for that matter, the first ten), this would have actually been like nothing else.