Nice way to mix constant suspense with an on/off love story
This is the first film in the Dreileben trilogy, screened as part of the Ghent filmfestival 2011, all three having an escaped sex offender chased in the German woods as a common theme. The love story of Johannes and Ana mixes well with the suspense elements. The most obvious cause of the latter is the escaped prisoner, who the police seems unable to locate in spite of the enormous police force we see and hear all the time.
A second threat, less obvious but continuously lurking in the background, originates from a motor gang, where one of its members has/had some relationship with Ana. The tension is there all the time, which I found the most compelling property of this film. This was especially how I felt each time when Johannes or Ana had to walk through the woods, to go to their work or to meet each other. The sound track worked very well to support that loneliness and vulnerability.
Johannes and Ana come from very different backgrounds, and that shows repeatedly. We can expect that their futures will also be very different as time progresses. Their on/off relationship will attract many viewers, including those not interested in the thriller elements. It seems a way to reach out to the general public, because of the fact that more time is spent in the love story than in the suspense parts of the film.
Neither story line comes to a final resolution, maybe on purpose. I don't think anyone expects a happy end for Johannes and Ana together, and the escaped prisoner is bound to get caught anyway. There were a number of sub-plots, however, that were left unused to their full potential. I already mentioned the motor gang as an example. However, I can imagine that this fell victim to last minute editing while cutting down the available footage to one and a half hour.
All in all, this film kept me in constant tension, and let me wonder what would happen next. As far as its purpose was to make a thriller, it is a success. On the other hand, both main characters were no candidate for me to get involved in their motives and their on/off courting. While Ana apologized lots of times for her inexplicable behavior, it did not hinder her from the next ill advised step. As a feel-good comedy, this film is obviously not for me. But the average viewer will think differently. I would give it 4 stars (out of 5) for the overall result.
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