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I saw Offset last night at the Festival of German Films in Melbourne.
It 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 is
marrying a German man and they plan to move to Germany. But it is a
complex plot - complex in terms of plot, 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 the young woman 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.
This is an intelligent film made with intelligence for an audience with
intelligence. Yes it is very competent technically, the lighting subtle
and natural, the editing unobtrusive but cleverly supportive of the
narrative, providing the film with an lively pace which belies the 107
minutes running time. Didi Danquart economically directs us to a view
of Romania which is unlikely the please the Romanian tourist board, but
this film does much more than that, it reeks of an uncompromising
Several of the performances are outstanding, as has been mentioned elsewhere Alexandra Maria Lara produces a performance of real depth, she is both convincing and affective in her portrayal of a young woman caught between two worlds. I was also impressed with the performance of Razvan Vasilescu as Iorga (Nicu)here is an actor who broods and effectively menaces all that surround him, without descending to pantomime theatrics. His omnipresent menace is quiet and subtle, only occasionally surfacing into conflict and expressed anger. One of the most impressive elements of this performance was the way his character is written. At several points Iorga uses the separation of characters by language and an effective weapon: smilingly he insults a German in Romanian leaving his secretary to flounder for a diplomatic translation.
This film captures the subtlety and the complexity of contemporary European integration. It bravely confronts the impact of the integration of ex-Soviet satellite states (with their moribund economies and crumbling architecture) into a relationship with one of the most advanced economies in Europe, Germany. The Germans are presented as exasperated imperialists, with a self conception of moral and economic superiority in relation to the Romanians. "We are just a typical German family" Stefan's father announces to Brindusa, a typical German family which cleverly satirises contemporary Germany: an ailing patriarch, an affected mother (brilliantly played by Katharina Thalbach), a sister who seems to be single mother, and two children who are spoilt and ill disciplined.
What the Germans take for granted is resented by the Romanians. As the film progresses we see the Germans represented as arrogantly 'taking' advantage in one way or another. Stefan thoughtlessly takes one of Brindusa's chocolates; another time her privacy is invaded, first by Stefan then by his spoilt nieces. Of course the greatest loss is metaphorically figured in the proposed marriage of Brindusa to Stefan and her subsequent departure for Germany. This provokes the anger of Iorga who had been Brindusa's lover before Stefan arrived.
This film takes its time, the audience is drawn into the lives of the finely drawn characters. Plot lines are allowed to develop organically and the audience follow without being patronised by cliché or stereotype, the end is rewarding and I thought incredibly tense.
The film's conclusion I believe to be a brave political metaphor. We all know that European integration is a wonderful thing, so much better than all those nasty wars of the 19th and 20th Centuries. But behind the political backslapping in Strasbourg and beneath the ring of stars in the EU flag are ordinary people who don't quite seem on message.
A very good film I would recommend it to anyone.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This love story isn't a typical Hollywood love story... Brindusa, the secretary at "Noir print", wants to marry the German mechanic Stefan. He works as a mechanic for the offset printing machine. The boss, Nicu Iorga, don't want them to marry because he can't live without Brindusa, he actually wants to pay mono Stefan for going back to Germany without marrying Brindusa! There is also, very funny, Stefan's family, especially his mother does a great performance... Felix Klare (Stefan) had his first big movie with Offset and he played very well. The movie is about love and I just wanna say: watch it!!! I saw it at the team premiere in Karlsruhe, unfortunately all actors had to work and didn't come there...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The film started out well. I know life doesn't always turn out well but i do like happy endings or at least some sort of happiness. The character Brindusa left me angry at her and disappointed. And that's how i felt at the end of the film, disappointed i stayed up late watching it. I was hoping those two would make it in the end but they didn't. I wanted a bit more, i wanted to see Stefan in Germany. I find it hard to believe she left Nicu for Stefan. Apart from that the film was interesting to watch the Germans view of Romania. Also near the end of the film in the chapel. I do really think that at least one of those guys would have tackled Nicu Iorga to get the gun off him. I know i would have when he turned his back.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Technically, the movie is done very professionally, good lighting and
camera. Sound is OK, does not really adapt to the various scenes.
Acting is good, but the characters are simple and react always the same
way (e.g. it is not understandable why Stefan does not drop her
The story begins interesting: a young German engineer comes to Romania. He meets Brindusa and they fall in love. They have to overcome the cultural differences.
The ex-lover of Brindusa and still her (married) boss tries everything from foul mouthing, sabotaging, threatening, bribing, to violence to get them apart. The French investors finally withdraw their offer to invest in his production line.
The German stereotype family arrives to meet the stereotype father of Brindusa.
At the wedding the boss arrives with a gun, shoots himself in the chest and Brindusa returns to him in the hospital instead of going to Germany. Why the hell one may ask? Maybe she is attracted by his macho behavior.
What really made me hate this movie is exactly this. Stereotypes which in the end make life together impossible. Romania is portrayed as a filthy place with violent, uncultivated people everywhere, Germans as overly moral and intrusive.
It left me with the feeling of "I never want to deal with Romanians".
The usage of 4 languages in the film seems stupid to me. Should it show, that everybody manages to speak 3 of the 4 to communicate and has a secret language with others?
"Offset" was probably one of the worst movies I've ever seen. It starts
of not to bad, and issues like interculturality and integration are no
doubt interesting and promising. But the movie fails completely in
dealing with these topics in a decent way. It was not the shallow plot,
nor the average acting that displeased me, I could deal with that. But
this movie reviews all the clichés about Germany, as well as about
Romania, in a way that made me really angry. The moral of the story
seems to be that "cultural barriers" can not be crossed, Romanians tend
to be irrational and violent, etc. etc.
Watching "Offset" was not only a loss of time, it also reproduces racist stereotypes and clichés. If it was meant to be a political statement too, it's totally irresponsible.
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