World War II is grinding to a close, and middle-aged Lena Bruecker (Barbara Sukowa) is caught in the fallout of Germany's crushing defeat. Her husband is missing in action on the Eastern ...
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World War II is grinding to a close, and middle-aged Lena Bruecker (Barbara Sukowa) is caught in the fallout of Germany's crushing defeat. Her husband is missing in action on the Eastern Front, her children are all grown and out of touch with her, and each day she has to hand out meager rations to the hungry at an Food Distribution Agency office with her co-worker Holzinger (Wolfgang Boeck). Lena spends her evenings waiting out Allied air attacks and sometimes going to the movies, and one night she happens to meet Hermann Bremer (Alexander Khuon), a German sailor. Hermann is on a short leave and is wary about returning to a dangerous assignment that seems increasingly futile. Lena and Hermann fall in love, and she offers to let him hide in her flat, but Lena's landlord Lammers (Branko Samarovski) is rabidly loyal to the Third Reich and will certainly turn Hermann in to the authorities if he discovers the deserter. Written by
Profoundly delightful, Shawshank like, ticks every box
In the last days of World War II, Lena Brücker (Barbara Sukowa) lives alone in her Hamburg apartment and works for the state-run Food Distribution Agency. At 47, and without any longing for her husband stationed on the eastern front, Lena believes that life and love are passing her by. Her life takes a dramatic turn when she offers shelter to Hermann Bremer (Alexander Khuon), a young sailor on shore leave. Quickly, they become lovers. It is a dangerous game: Hermann is now a deserter and the noise from Lena's apartment is arousing suspicion. Far more threatened by peace than war, Lena attempts to hold on to Hermann by hiding the truth of Germany's imminent defeat.
The 2009 Audi German Film Festival has just finished in Australia being it's 8th season here. Invention of the Curried Sausage was one of 2 films I saw. Before the festival we get a little booklet with a synopsis of the movie (above in this case) and a few still shots. Perhaps it was Barbara's blonde hair and physical bearing that caught my eye initially. And then the synopsis. Hours can be spent working out which of the 30 movies to see! Sausage was my favourite this year by a country mile and probably one of the standouts of the festivals I've been going to for 5 or 6 years..
Fitting across a number of genres, 25% historical background, 20% food, 20% romance, 25% comedy, lead actress Barbara Sukowa in her middle 50s in real life but playing a late 40s woman here is a delight. Her work colleague the chef Holzinger played by Wolfgang Bock was a great comedy foil and I enjoyed the thread of repartee through the movie between them. He's probably very well known in Germany for his TV work.
I should declare that of all foreign films I like a good German movie over a French, Italian or Greek one. A very good Danish or Swedish one as well. My experience with the country film festivals here that Palace Cinemas Australia do each year (Germany in conjunction with the Goethe Institute) is that a selection panel choose the cream of the recent films and also often retrospective screening of older films. This year with the German festival it would have been very easy to see 6 or more very good films. Yet the French Festival this year with a larger number of films you'd be struggling to find 1 or 2.
Watching movies for a genre you are passionate and excited about I'll always wonder if one can get carried away or over estimate the rating. But I was pleased to see here that lead actress Barbara Sukowa won best actress at the 2008 Montreal Film Festival. Bravo Barbara and a special mention should be made of Ulla Wagner who wrote the screenplay an directed the film. She has bought her screenplay to life beautifully. Construction wise "Sausage" has a rhythm and a transition and time line very similar to the Shawshank Redemption when I think about it. Seamless, smooth, very polished. Neither puts a foot wrong as they move from start to finish. Whether or not Ulla (the writer of the screenplay rather than the original novelist) is any relation to Stephen King I cannot be sure but she's certainly very talented.
The stranger I sat next to at Sunday Apr 26 2009 Como Melbourne session turned to me after the film finished and said "wasn't that a great film. It makes you want to go back to Germany" Christopher who introduced himself was right. This film was almost the perfect recipe. And I for one would be keen to visit Hamburg as I also liked the look of the movies locations.
Watch out food based movies.. The Dinner Game, Chocolat, Mostly Martha (the original German version).. Germany has great new entrant! I'm sure those of us fortunate enough to see this movie will think fondly of it for some time after and of the characters and actors playing in this ensemble cast. And keep an eye out for them in the future films. There would have been far worse places to spend the dying days of WW2 in Germany than here. Highly recommended and a wonderful way to spend 106 minutes.
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