Tuesday, February 17, 2009


2003, Germany, directed by Christian Petzold

Although Christian Petzold works in a very different tonal register, Wolfsburg is sometimes strikingly reminiscent of Tom Tykwer's 1997 film Winterschläfer in its narrative strategies. Indeed, the two films are both centered around car accidents and unexpected new relationships, and both have carefully constructed outcomes with a measure of poetic justice. The similarities end there, however: where Tykwer, more than in his other films, creates a strikingly warm portrait of small-town life, Petzold is a merciless observer of the surfaces of modern life. The small town, near Wolfsburg, where most of the film takes place seems to have no centre, no stabilizing force, a problem mirrored in the main character's lack of moral centre. Petzold's characters work in a car dealership and a supermarket, at opposite ends of the economic spectrum, and all seem trapped in existences over which they feel little control. Their moments of happiness are illusory, supported by the shakiest of foundations if not by outright lies - just as the new life constructed by the characters in Petzold's earlier film Die innere Sicherheit reveals itself to be a house of cards.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States