In Germany, as graduate student Katie Armstrong researches cannibal killer Oliver Hagen for her thesis, she becomes obsessed with her subject and ultimately plunges into a lifestyle similar... See full summary »
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Brandon Gerald Fuller,
Lauren Ashley Carter
In Germany, as graduate student Katie Armstrong researches cannibal killer Oliver Hagen for her thesis, she becomes obsessed with her subject and ultimately plunges into a lifestyle similar to Hagen's and the thousands of people like him. Written by
[Eager Man meets cannibal through personal ad; strung up and about to be butchered, he changes his mind]
I don't want to do this! Let me down! Let me down! Let me down!
I said serious only.
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This was inspired by the real life case of Armin Meiwes who put an ad over an Internet site looking for a willing victim to be slaughtered and their flesh consumed. What made the case so unusual was he was not only serious but another man named Bernd Jurgen Brandes obliged apparently without being physically forced as a share of the event was captured on videotape. "Grimm Love" is a tale that paces as a dark narrative drama with a fictional college student named Katie Armstrong, played by Keri Russell, returning to where these two lived in Germany in an attempt to get inside their heads for a research paper.
Instead of concentrating on horror and shock, the filmmakers switch back and forth between the present with Ms. Armstrong and also in the past with the two men who eventually meet up in a kind of twisted, interconnected fate. Oliver (based on Meiwes) is shown as far back as adolescence with his father leaving, trouble fitting in at school, as well as having no life apart from taking care of his ailing mother. He's alone and looking for companionship, though his way of connecting with people isn't hugs, kisses or long conversations, but instead a longing fixation of consuming the flesh of someone special to feel stimulation and closeness.
Simon (based on Brandes) is a homosexual who fears showing his feelings in public out of misunderstandings and ridicule. He has severe depression and searches for a sense of belonging through some normal and not so normal ways. He looks at extreme fetishes on an Internet chatroom as a way of feeling alive from a life that never accepted him. In 2003, Gay Chinese actor/composer Leslie Cheung was successful but still committed suicide by jumping off a building, likewise Simon also has things going for him, though it's too much and he wants to meet his end with symbolism that directly "severs" ties with his burdensome sexuality that gives him a guilt complex from his mother's suicide at an early age.
Dodging the pulse-pounding route of "Silence of the Lambs," this comes across more like "Kalifornia" by hearing the thoughts and experiences as they come through with narration. It also flows as slow as Cronenberg's "Spider" in an attempt at an on-the-surface character study of these atypical individuals' thought processes and motivations. Though the college student's montages about how these two men affect her take up extra screen time away from finding out more. There are metaphors and poetic wordings interspliced to sway the audience towards deep sympathy for these two fractured individuals. Sometimes making you think with introspection, but at other times being desperate to make a point and forcing their way in, like some of Keri Russells' obvious voice overs instead of letting the camera do the talking.
"Grimm Love" isn't going to be like watching a biopic on the History Channel by just stating the events as is, as the filmmakers are doing select reporting to be more convincing towards a certain compassionate, sentimental way of thinking than letting your own thoughts flow free. To some it's going to be touching, to others it's going to be sympathy for the devil. The heavy leaning towards the first here can take away from the experience as it feels written with a prior agenda in mind, not to mention before all things were considered in the case as the real events took place in only 2001 and an overturned verdict came in 2006 when this came out. I like the angle of diving into their background even if it breaks psychology down for the layman, though this would have worked better as a biography with anecdotes from relatives, friends and experts. Or if a story is to be had, something like the route taken with "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer," where the director of that film said he feels that he shouldn't have to decide a stance for the viewer, that that's up to them.
This isn't an exploitation film that takes advantage of real events such as "Men Behind the Sun" did, as it's more suggestive than showing candid nudity and bodily infliction like "Cannibal" about the same events. Though by the time it closes--right after the infamous scenario between the men that's akin to the real life events in "In the Realm of the Senses"--it can't seem to decide what it wanted to be. In the beginning and middle it was going out of its way to reason with the audience that these guys aren't just a couple of kooks with mental issues like the media sensationalized. Though by its close they left the story up in the air and ambiguous with the young woman being either deeply moved or having a change of heart. It makes me believe she was only included as a ploy for the writers to speak through her and then at the end decided it was time enough to let the audience choose. Not to mention at an inopportune time as it ends abruptly and doesn't show what happened next. (See my profile and click chronological for the second review of "Cannibal" or the third review "Downloading Nancy.") (Also submitted on http://fromblacktoredfilmreviews.blogspot.com/)
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