Offset (Didi Danquart, Germany, 2006)
By a fortunate twist of fate, I won tickets to Offset on Tuesday evening, which started soon after my first French class. The former was in Brighton and the latter in St. Kilda, so it was all very convenient. And the film turned out to be quite interesting and enjoyable, which has got to be a good thing.
Offset is set in Bucharest, Romania and is a French, German and Swiss co-production. It really is a curious film and uses German, Romanian, English and French dialogue. A young German-speaking Romanian woman (Alexandra Maria Lara as Brindusa) is marrying a German man (Felix Klare as Stefan) and they plan to move to Germany. But it is a complex plot - complex in terms of plot, culture, relationships and emotionally.
Right from the start I noticed that the cinematography was beautiful in an understated, naturalistic way - just the way I like it. I was tentative for much of the film, as it looked like it was setting itself up as a fairly stereotypical family drama/romance that could descend into comedy at a moment's notice. With confidence, the director completely steered away from just about every cliché and contrivance that could have been readily exploited at any time. This is sophisticated film-making.
The chemistry between the various characters was full of authenticity and their interactions were both natural and original. There was a language barrier between the respective parents of the young couple and the film captured their unease at dinner very effectively. Characters were mostly shades of grey, so that even the beauty of Brindusa did not eclipse her moral ambiguity.
The film appears to head for a certain direction, and when things turn dark, it becomes genuinely suspenseful. It was at this point that I realised this film was much more than just another mediocre story. It was intelligent, culturally complex and I highly recommend it, though I don't believe it will be commercially released in Australia. That's a real shame, because it's well-made and could easily have wide appeal. It's vastly superior to most family dramas that make it to our screens.
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Official website (German-language only) / IMDB