Die Innere Sicherheit (2000)

22 06 2010

A really good movie and an important gap in the career of Christian Petzold. I still think he’s a bit away from being in the top-tier of the Berliner Schule filmmakers, but this film (which is probably his best, now that I think about) is more than helpful in explaining the rest of his work. For example, before this, I figured Petzold was just an “arty” filmmaker who was trying to explore his interest in “genre” on a more dramatic level. That element is present here and it achieves  the perfect balance with his more “sophisticated” style. In that case, this is sort of the ideal Petzold film. He throws a family drama in with a Haneke-type thriller and a coming of age story for good measure. It never feels that thought out, though, in fact it really is quite impressive how all this stuff molds together organically.

The whole “fugitive lovers on the run” thing is given an update, and is shown a more complicated aftermath. The love story between left-wing terrorists Clara and Hans, while not without some drama, isn’t really the big deal. The emphasis is instead placed on the maturity of their teenage daughter, Jeanne, played by a perfectly cast Julia Hummer. There’s something relentlessly compelling about seeing the pragmatism of her parents (“just ignore boys” – don’t be your age) clashing with her teenage desires. She’s not a sex-hungry brat or anything else that one would expect from a teenage girl who has been restricted to a world without friendship or even love. She understands why she should be quiet, cold, and distant but she tries (albeit in a subtle way) to rebel against the calculated monitoring of her criminal parents.

There’s no one really to fault here. We don’t even get hints at Clara and Hans’ backstory so the audience never has the opportunity to judge their lifestyle on their past. Whether their acts were justifiable or not isn’t the problem. The problem is they are in a situation in which they must always be on their toes and because of this, they are stunting their daughter’s personal growth. Of course, because this is a story about fugitives there’s plenty of “suspenseful” stuff but Petzold manages to elegantly blend such elements into the fine print of a story about familial relations. I suppose this has always been his intention (putting “dramatic events” into a film that suits the style of something more low-key) but he’s never been nearly as successful as he is here.

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