9. Februar 2011

Brownian Movement

Escapade and forgiveness – Berlinale Forum 2011

Charlotte leads a double life: Her well paid job as doctor plus her family with husband and son constitute her official appearance. She works in lab, teaches students, kisses her child. Having sexual contact with random patients in a secret apartment remains her secret and the focus of the film's first part. The quiet German loves her husband but feels drawn to all kinds of men: One is particularly hairy, one penetrates her with his fingers, another weighs three times as much as herself, the next one breathes heavily and could be her grandfather. She speaks English and French in this movie and the audience needs a lot of serenity and patience to watch her being fucked and think and walk naked. What exactly is the conflict? Gender vs. norm, desire vs. convention? Sandra Hüller plays a middle aged upper class woman and has a quite ordinary face and body. Which is photographed nicely. Her intensity as actress belongs to the category of minimalism.
A surprisingly violent incident reveals the secret. The second part of the movie deals with the evaluation of her behavior by a psychologist. Charlotte and her handsome husband sit in the wide office of the therapist, but Charlotte refuses to explain and seems to be caught in a state of mental block. A court of medicinal law passes a verdict against the protagonist.

The third part of BROWNIAN MOVEMENT plays in India, where Charlotte's husband oversees a big construction while she has nothing to do particularly, except playing with her new twin baby sons. Instead of a climax and catharsis, the movie ends in a car ride in a desert.

The film's director might want us to start thinking about sexuality, intimacy, convention, bonds and gender roles. There is more than enough space in this movie, which fails to entertain. Space in the sense of luxuriously large rooms, labs, offices, apartments and wide angle camera lenses. The framing is very nice, geometrical and tripod driven. Each part of the film is introduced by an intense minute of spherical music. The rest of the film has next to no soundtrack.
The dramatic curve might feel unusual and makes me wonder how this film's producer managed to collect the funding for the project. The actual story would not take more than 10 to 20 minutes to tell. So the Berlinale Forum presents a feature film which might be cut down to a short film without discarding any major event.
The lenghty study of female sexual craving does not aim at being erotic nor pornographic. It is as random and meaningless as the movement of atoms. Strangely though, it is this kind of movie which one might remember for being strange, angular and unconventional outside Europe. The art factor and set design might be one reason for decision makers to fund and also select it for festivals.

rating: * *

The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium
director & script:
Nanouk Leopold
Sandra Hüller, Dragan Bakema, Daniel Money-Kyle, Sabine Timoteo
Running time:
102 min
Stienette Bosklopper / Circe Films, Herbert Schwering / Coin Film, Serendipity Films, Bella Cohen Films, VPRO Television
Frank van den Eeden