Impressive German film about sexual intimacy and distant freedoms
'Gisela' (2005) is a film by German director Isabelle Stever based on a novel by Anke Stelling and Robby Dannenberg. It revolves around the encounters of three protagonists who become entangled in a kind of love triangle. Gisela (Anne Weinknecht) is a dissatisfied housewife with a young son, who lives on a socially deprived housing estate. She works at the local supermarket on the till and her husband is a delivery driver. When Georg (Stefan Rudolf) who seems to have known her, albeit rather fleetingly, for a while comes into the supermarket, stealing cigarettes and stocking up on beer for another party, she seems intrigued by the quiet but charismatic presence of Georg's friend, Paul (the rather gorgeous Carlo Ljubek). A spontaneous invitation to their party tempts Gisela to quietly rebel against the stifling mundanity of her marriage and the casual cruelty of her husband. In the sterile, rubbish-strewn apartment, a strong sexual presence becomes almost immediately apparent between her and Paul and their intimacies begin. Georg looks up jealously at the dimly-lit balcony where Paul and Gisela can be seen kissing. The men - both jobless and needing a seemingly unending supply of beer and cigarettes
brag wildly to each other, each trying to intimidate the other with
tales of their sexual exploits. In contrast, Gisela embodies something purer, more honest and authentic. She seems to exude a goodness that Georg and Paul can otherwise only dream about.
As the sex between her and Paul becomes more mutually satisfying and passionately intimate, Georg's self-destructive behaviour escalates. He taunts Gisela's husband with suggestions of infidelity and even seeks to make her small son curious about "uncle Paul" and what he is getting up to with his mother. Paul's strong ambivalence about developing and maintaining emotional connections with a woman becomes clearer as do his deeper feelings for Gisela. He breaks off their affair only to be later seen swimming naked in the sea with her, kissing playfully. That the film ends as unspectacularly as it began speaks for Stever's naturalistic approach and her refusal to explain the inner lives of her protagonists. She has said simply in interviews that she wanted to make "a film about freedom portrayed with sober authenticity". Perhaps she has even surpassed her aim and given us a film about yearning for freedom whilst fighting the loneliness brought about by the lack of it.
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