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Der freie Wille
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Free Will More at IMDbPro »Der freie Wille (original title)

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48 out of 57 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant, Intense and Brave Film-making

Author: tkam from NYC
3 May 2006

Just saw this at the Tribeca Film Festival and it's one of the most intelligent, raw, intense and thought provoking films I've ever seen. It's unfortunate that some audience members and critics will focus on the graphic scenes of rape, tender lovemaking, masturbation and emotional trauma.

The movie ultimately is about the extreme strength and fragility of personal will. We're shown how one person's surfacing unconditional love strengthens that person's will enough to accept and (heart wrenchingly) and not stop the complete relinquishing of another's personal will. Heady stuff, but very cleanly done.

The two lead performers, Jürgen Vogel & Sabine Timoteo, fully inhabit and bring to surface the deeply-buried emotional chaos and trajectories of their characters. (The brilliance of their work would be lost on audience members who aren't used to understanding different cultures, i.e.: Germans cool, thoughtful communication style.) Their performances are nothing short of phenomenal.

If you love great film making, see this. But brace yourself for a very compelling and intense 2.75 albeit efficient hours. You will be blown away. I found it very insightful and moving.

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29 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

Good Portrayal, Few Explanations

Author: cadmandu from California
14 January 2007

I saw this at the German Film Festival in San Francisco, and having been to a few of these before, I was prepared for a depressing experience. What's with these Germans? Anyway . . . this is a brutal, thorough, carefully crafted portrayal of the tortured life of what Americans call with politically correct blandness a "sex offender." Our protagonist, Theo, is raping his third victim when we meet him. He is a smoldering, violent thug. We next encounter him, 9 years later, as he is released from a mental hospital into a supervised residential setting. He is a broken man. He is riding a beast he hates, and he has no idea when the beast will bite again.

As a portrayal of psychology, angst, subtlety of emotion, and real human relations, I would give this film a 10. The sparring session between Theo, and his budding girlfriend Nettie, is a brilliant display of the subtle forces which are torturing the both of them. The fact that these two people have the sparsest dialog in the history of cinema may not be realistically correct, but it is an excellent artistic way of turning the focus to their inner emotions. This film is art, after all -- not a documentary.

The only reason I didn't go for 10 stars is that I had a persistent feeling that something was missing. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I would have liked some back story about Theo's youth, something that would make him a whole person. The film does work without that, but it is a lack that a writer and director of such brilliance could somehow have remedied.

This is not a feel good, date movie.

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29 out of 36 people found the following review useful:

the opposite of chick flick - only for the strong of heart - bold movie!

Author: pavese-1 from Germany
15 February 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I saw the first screening of this movie on Berlinale this year. I have to say that it is easy to condemn this movie and in the extremely politically correct atmosphere of a movie festival the audience refused to applaud afterwards despite the amazing performance of both Jürgen Vogel and Sabine Timoteo. I don't know whether the refusal to applaud was due to the fact that the audience was still speechless or that the topic is simply to risqué. Probably both.

The movie takes the bold step to try to get into the skin of a rapist (Vogel) who has just been released from prison after serving a nine year sentence for sexual assault.

Jürgen Vogel conveys the feeling that he is both scared to death of himself and women as he knows that he is not able to master his urge to repeat what brought him into prison. Most people will not want to get this close to one of the most outcast pariahs we have in society - and boy, do we get close.

In one memorable and very explicit scene he masturbates as if he wants to rip his penis from his groin. Other scenes show him struggling with himself when he is confronted with women. The film makes it very clear that there is no hope for Theo in this battle against an urge that is too powerful and soon his "free will" leaves the stage and we are invited to see a seemingly endless rape scene that - honestly - got me on the verge of leaving the theater. It's slightly reminiscent of the ugliness of Henry - portrait of a serial killer.

Where most directors would now offer some psychology-101-explanation as to what turned Theo into such a hideous monster in order to give the audience some sort of rationalization of the horror on-screen Mathias Glasner does no such thing. Instead Theo is even allowed to fall in love with Nettie (telling-name, nett means nice), but it's not hard to guess that they are not going to have a pair of twins and marry in the end.

What makes this movie so difficult to digest is the fact that its premise seems to be that Theo is still a human being with emotions. That he has a cross to bear that none of us could carry. But at the same time it is also clear that he is a ticking time bomb and that nothing can keep him from repeating his monstrous deeds. What are we to do with this dilemma? The movie offers no answers, therefore it's easy to point the finger and accuse it of moral indifference. But not all issues, especially the question of what to do with sex offenders, can be solved.

This movie sticks a finger into this festering wound with a relentlessness that few will find bearable. The guts it took to shoot this movie both from the director's point of view and - to an even higher degree - from Jürgen Vogel's perspective deserve respect. He plays this character with an emotional force that leaves you wondering how much Theo is actually in him. In America this movie would have destroyed his reputation for a decade. And at times you wonder from where Jürgen Vogel got the strength to pull this one through.

All in all a shocking, disgusting, and deeply depressing movie that has the guts to tackle a true taboo - and there aren't many left.

One word of advice though - don't take your girl-friend. If you are a girl - don't watch it.

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18 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

Emotionally and psychologically very good film

Author: acidosislactica from Mexico
12 August 2006

A very good film about the emotional and psychology of a raper who, after nine years of condemn, is free under supervision. He gets a job and begin a relationship with a girl who has is own psychological peculiarities.

The film goes deep into the emotional and psychology of the main characters, specially the raper, and through a very good acting from both of them and a good manage of silences and dialogs, the film really makes the people get into the movie to feel the horrible suffering side from the point of view of the victims and the struggle that Theo has to deal inside with.

Also it shows to us the hard part of knowing and, after, accepting the past life of Theo by Neeti. At the end and after hard struggle within, Theo realizes that he can not fight against his own "frei Wille".

The film is indeed too long but it never makes you feel bored or lose interest. A very impacting and good film.

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22 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

Gripping movie experience but way too long

Author: neomagic from Germany
2 August 2006

Saw it here in Germany yesterday. This is a pretty intense film. It's a psychological study about two people, one of them a rapist and one a shy young women (strange personality as well) who seem to develop feelings for each other. Because of the very gritty atmosphere and some disturbing scenes quite a few people left the cinema. Even though I appreciated some of the film's aspects like not holding back on anything and developing deep characters I still felt like the director forgot to deliver a final cut of the movie: it was so long (160 minutes) and stuffed with endless shots that didn't help the story, that I felt bored many times, in spite of the extreme story and the brilliant acting. Another thing that bugged me was the low resolution, low color, video camera style which was probably supposed to make the film look even more bleak - unnecessary in my opinion.

Had it been cut to regular film length, it would have greatly benefited the impact of the movie. Like this, for me it's a 7.

P.S. One guy here mentioned in his review, that understanding of different cultures is necessary like the Germans' "cool and thoughtful communication style". I have never seen people in Germany talk as little as the characters in this movie and can't imagine any two people to build a relationship based on one sentence per five minutes.

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12 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

what a great movie

Author: gsb77 from Germany
3 May 2007

2 days ago i saw "der freie wille". now, after 2 days and many thoughts, i'm more than positive about this movie. what it makes great, is the brilliant script, especially when you consider the subject, the superb acting by jürgen vogel and sabine timoteo and the discreet, but precise directing by matthias glasner. while watching the movie i was drawn into the story, understood the characters and felt with them. i actually was talking loud in front of the screen. that might sound a bit silly due to it's just a movie, but i was captured. despite the length and the difficult subject of the movie, i just can highly recommend this film!!!

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9 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Selfish genes

Author: lreynaert from Belgium
25 July 2009

This physically and emotionally extremely violent movie is a deep meditation on an essential philosophical problem regarding mankind: man's free will, his freedom and liberty of action. It is the story of a man who tries to master his sexually sadistic drive against women. With harsh explicit shots the camera shows the uphill struggle against this obsession baked into the genes: 'It is inside me. It is inside me'. How can I get rid of it? This movie, with a sublime Jurgen Vogel in an extremely difficult role, is one of the greatest masterpieces of all time. It is a must see for all those who want to know who we really are.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Gripping Story, brilliant acting, authenticity - but too long & exhausting

Author: info-9360 from Berlin, Germany
1 September 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Der freie Wille" is the tragedy of the rapist Theo (Vogel). After years of imprisonment and struggle for a normal life and love, he realizes that he can never be free of his pathological sexual urge. I saw this movie yesterday and it left intense, but contradictory impressions on me. First and above all, I appreciate the brilliant and authentic acting of J.Vogel, S.Timoteo, M.Zapatka and the whole ensemble. I saw real persons, not roles, sharp characterizations, not clichés, good actors, not stars. I appreciate the courage of the producers to realize such a movie, too. It's necessary to make movies like this. But in my opinion it has some severe structural problems, and that's why I refused to let story & characters affect me till the end. What a pity! Okay: some extremely disturbing scenes are shown, because the story isn't nice. Okay: this movie is a hard challenge for mind & heart, because cruelty against women is bad reality - worldwide. Okay: the main character Theo is a tragical monster, because of his unsolved conflict. Okay: Theo's only girlfriend Nettie (Timoteo) has to be both a highly neurotic and very intelligent person - other girls wouldn't be able to like Theo, and he wants her love so badly. Okay: the story is concerned with pain, cruelty, dread, fear, sorrow - all the abysses of human soul. But 3 hours long? It seemed to me that the movie contains too much unnecessary scenes (i.e. Nettie's job in a Belgian chocolate factory), that didn't help the story and unfortunately failed its impact on me. Eventually, for Theo, his victims and Nettie their lives are infinite real time human catastrophes. But to be and stay deeply affected by a character's tragedy in a movie, it isn't necessary to reveal every little detail of his or her life as if it happened in real life. This fact even weakens my attention and sympathy for the anti-heroes.It appears to me, that the movie couldn't decide between drama and documentary. But the really bad effect on me as the film's audience, who expects drama art, not real life: in the long run it's too exhausting to follow the plot. Unfortunately the key scenes get the same attention as the under-plots (and after a too long time no attention anymore). Therefore the dramaturgy kills itself. Besides, too much Method Acting. The story is intense enough - why so much long takes of sighs and yells? Timoteo does a brilliant job - when she shows her feelings subtle and reserved. I was also fascinated by Vogel's performance - when he shows soul instead of nakedness. I also concede, I'm not happy with the very hard ending. But somehow I would've liked it, if the movie would've been cut as a piece of drama art, not as a diary of pain. c.k.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A brilliant title for a brilliant movie

Author: reb_vodka_042099 from Greece
1 April 2010

Ah, the always-magnificent German cinema comes through once more. 2 hours and 43 minutes of stupendous cinema experience is what this movie is.

I really can't say whose performance was the greatest: Sabine Timoteo's or Jurgen Vogel's? They were both so rattling in their own way. And the subject of the movie is bold, carelessly blow-to-blow, heartbreaking.

This movie has no beauty in it. But that's exactly the beauty in it. There's no poetry in it but it's so poetic. Every close-up, every character panning, every scream. Obsession and addiction and the free will.

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

The Challenge of Morality and Mentality

Author: samuelding85 from Singapore
2 December 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Free Will has been compared with Gasper Noe's Irreversible for the take on view of rape. And it was said to be more controversial than Irreversible.

In some way, The Free Will proves to be better than Irreversible. But on the other hand, Irreversible gives a bigger impact than The Free Will.

Director Matthias Glasner brings out the weakness of a human being (and i am referring to rape here) by creating a character named Theo (Jurgen Vogel). Theo sexually violated a girl, and was sentenced to 9 years of imprisonment. He wants to start a new life for himself, by living in a apartment that houses ex-criminals, getting himself a new job in the publishing factory, and finds release through sports and self fulfillment through porn videos.

Glasner then introduces Nettie (Sabine Timoteo) into the story. She was the daughter of the owner of the publishing factory. Through some small little incidents, Theo and Nettie knows one another better. They developed a relationship later. However, while going through a normal relationship, Theo found himself fighting the battle against sexual urges with the opposite sex, which can leads to rape if he did not do something problem to stop himself from walking back to the same old road again.

The Free Will is a test on the audience's moral values and patience. Why moral values? Theo uses porn to find satisfaction, and later, engaging in a sexual relationship with Nettie. It questions the audience on the moral values on sex and urges in the human beings.

And why patience? The Free Will is a slow moving film that lasts 163 minutes, longer than any other movies that discuss similar topics. However, 163 minutes were used to explore the inner world of Theo, right from the beginning when he sexually violated the problem to finding a solution for himself. Rather than having everything fast forward, it goes on the pace of things happening in our daily life.

Using a digital video camcorder to shoot the film, The Free Will takes a much more closer approach to the story on an ex offender finding ways to change himself. Irreversible, which was also filmed using a digital camcorder, takes a real life approach on an incident that took place in less than 12 hour's time.

The Free Will is a piece of fine work that explores beyond The Free Will.

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