Angelina Maccarone's intense drama deals with the obsessive relationship between a confused teenager and an elder woman. Elsa Seifert successfully works as probation officer, but the ... See full summary »
Angelina Maccarone's intense drama deals with the obsessive relationship between a confused teenager and an elder woman. Elsa Seifert successfully works as probation officer, but the relationship to her longtime companion is in trouble since their common daughter moved out. Then she gets to know Jan, a 16-years-old offender, who frankly offers to submit himself sexually to her. Although being shocked in the beginning, Elsa gets more and more attracted by the young man... Written by
At one point, Jan gets into Elsa's car as she is parked on a busy street. This is shot from inside the car and, through the windscreen can be seen, parked directly in front of Elsa, a Mk.1 Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet. In the next wide-shot of Elsa pulling out of the parking spot, the car directly in front of her is an Opel Tigra, with the Golf now in front of the Opel. See more »
PUNISH ME (VERFOLGT), aptly photographed in rich black and white, is a deftly made German film that raises as many questions as disturbing thoughts, a film that in every definition is a film noir - and a superb one at that. Writer Susanne Billig and director Angelina Maccarone (note: two very talented women!) have concocted a tale of disparate matching between a 50-year-old woman and a 16-year-old boy, a relationship that builds on sadomasochism as a means of filling voids in each character. The story could easily have become 'sensational' in less sensitive hands, but here, with the sound help of a superb and wholly credible cast, it asks us to examine the extremes to which people will go to feel complete.
Jan Winkler (the gifted and inordinately handsome Kostja Ullmann) is 16 and on probation for petty crimes. He is assigned to parole officer Elsa Seifert (the fine actress Maren Kroymann), a 50-year-old frustrated woman in a marriage that has stagnated. Jan feels a strange attraction to Elsa, an act that at first Elsa rebuffs and discourages but gradually becomes fascinated with the attention and seductive behavior of the young Jan. Committed to helping Jan she manages to talk her husband into employing Jan at his car repair shop the two males strike up a friendship. In a series of subtle episodes Jan suggests his need for 'structuring' to Elsa: what he needs is Elsa to punish him physically, and when Elsa complies she is attracted to the process of sadomasochistic behavior (as the Dominatrix) as well as to the tenderness that always follows their dark sessions. Elsa's husband discovers his wife's relationship with Jan while Jan's friends uncover the secret, and the resulting behavior and recriminations flesh out the surprising ending.
Both Ullmann and Kroymann are outstanding in these difficult roles and manage to maintain our empathy and understanding throughout the story. Both are exceptional actors and both have compelling screen presence. The cinematography allows us to once again remember how powerful black and white film can be. This is a film that some may find difficult to view (sadomasochism, teenage/older woman 'romance'), but the director keeps the story in tight rein and the result is a powerful tale of need and love and the sticky path that often joins the two feelings. In German with English subtitles. Recommended. Grady Harp
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