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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

"Slow-paced and character-driven mystery..."

7/10
Author: Sindre Kaspersen from Norway
18 January 2012

The first part of "Dreileben", a loose trilogy based on a fictitious story about a murderer called Frank Molesch who escapes from a hospital in the rural village Dreileben in The Free State of Thuringia, is succeeded by "Don't Follow Me Around" (2011) and "One Minute Of Darkness" (2011). It was written and directed by German filmmaker Christian Petzold and tells the story about Johannes, a young and energetic hospital worker, and Ana, a vulnerable and free-spirited woman who works at a hotel and lives with her mother and her younger brother. Johannes and Ana meets and falls in love during a summer in Dreileben when the police is chasing an escaped murderer, but Ana's increasing devotion decreases their evolving relationship.

Christian Petzold's stylistic, perceptive and engaging directing is distinct in this slow-paced and character-driven mystery which is finely acted by German actor Jacob Matschenz and Bosnian actress Luna Mijovic as the promising young lovers Johannes and Ana. The brilliant use of sound and the visually noticeable cinematography by German cinematographer Hans Fromm reinforces the predominant and impending atmosphere in this romantic psychological thriller which is the most rigorously structured and minimalistic part of the Dreileben trilogy.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Nice way to mix constant suspense with an on/off love story

Author: JvH48 from Amersfoort, The Netherlands
18 October 2011

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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Starts off strong, but does not stay that way

5/10
Author: Thomas (filmreviews@web.de) from Berlin, Germany
22 July 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Dreileben" is a German mini-series from 5 years ago and it is a project by three of the currently most successful German filmmaker. These include Christian Petzold, Domink Graf and Christoph Hochhäusler. Each of them directed a 90-minute episode for this three-part series. These episodes are linked loosely, even if they focus on entirely different characters. The title means "Three Lives", but I would not say it is really correct as there are at least three lives per episode that change considerably in the process of the story. The three films are not happening chronologically, but at the same time, which means the beginning of one episode is (in terms of time) also the beginning of the two other episodes, only that the focus is on other people and the main characters from one episode are just minor supporting characters in the other two.

The first episode is directed by Petzold and I quite like him as a filmmaker. To me, this one was by far the best episode. I would give it a ***/***** and there were moments when I was tempted to give it an even higher rating. It's easy to care develop an interest in the characters and what happens to them, even care for them, especially for Luna Zimic Mijovic, who is the MVP in here. Petzold really never disappoints I must say. This was one of his best efforts.

The second episode was directed by Dominik Graf, the oldest from the trio and I have seen most of his popular works by now and I am truly underwhelmed by him as a filmmaker. This one here is no exception. I don't know if he is really the one to blame or lead actress Jeanette Hain, who never really made me care at all with her performance. The supporting players aren't any better and the whole 90 minutes seem very lackluster. I also felt the reference to film one was extremely vague as Hain was non-existent in the first except the scene at the hotel. The first film ended on a huge cliffhanger ending, but we find nothing about that here either.

Finally, Hochhäusler (not too familiar with his other works yet) closes the series and I must say in terms of quality, this is somewhere between the first and second film. The focus here is Molesch (Stefan Kurt) and he elevates the mediocre material a lot with his performance. I can see why he received so much awards attention for his portrayal. But also a strong actor like him (in a quietly convincing turn) can only elevate the material by so much. The other story about the old cop taking a look at the Molesch case again never really got me curious, but I also believe the writing is to blame there and not actor Eberhard Kirchberg. As a whole, this episode is certainly better than the second, thanks to the acting, but as closure to the series, I still find it underwhelming. It certainly does not go out on a high note. There were good scenes like the one with the frog and the little girl as parallel to the criminal's life, but the fire scene at the end and the way his path of torture actually criminalized the apparently innocent Molesch into committing a horrible act seemed neither convincing nor realistic to me.

As a whole, I believe Petzold maybe should have made this as a standalone film. His opening episode is by far the best aspect about the entire thing and the level decreases dramatically afterward. I also think, even with the cliffhanger ending there, it may have worked nicely as a film on his own. All in all, I would not want to sit through these 4.5 hours again. The middle part was entirely forgettable and the ending episode was only slightly better. Not worth the time. i do not recommend the watch. Or just stop watching after part 1.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A unique love story!

8/10
Author: Aamir Ahmad (kgpianasimov) from Portugal
9 November 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I watched this movie at the Lisbon & Estoril Film Festival 2011. The movie is a superb work of art in many ways, however I am still going to have my piece of criticism.

The acting by all main actors, direction, screenplay and the cinematography are excellent. What really caught my attention and seems a vital factor for this movie not getting a 10 pointer from me is the story! Johannes, the protagonist of the movie is an aspiring doctor who's ex-girlfriend, Sara, is back in the town where he is doing a part-time job as a nurse in a hospital. Among strange circumstances he meets a girl named Ana who has a troubled background. Ana works as a room-maid in a hotel to make ends meet and support her little brother and dependent mother. The movie revolves around Johannes' growing and receding love for Ana and his thoughts about being re-united with Sara. The main reason for this being Ana's strange behavior which certainly seems to be a result of her troubled background.

In my opinion what is not adequately dealt in this story is that there is no real emphasis on Ana's background. The story starts with a little bit depiction of this but then focuses mainly on her strange behavior. This is injustice to the character of Ana. The story writer wants us to be sympathetic towards Ana but to do so there needs to be more background information.

The best thing I liked about the movie is that there are a lot of related sub-plots all which have loose unfinished ends leading to a strange mysterious feeling throughout the movie. The plot of the escapee is one such.

Another beautiful example of direction/screenplay is that there are many scenes which if looked at from a different frame of mind will seem to be happening in one of the character's dream where as it will also make sense if those scenes were happening in reality in the movie. One good example for this is the scene where the escapee is chasing Ana and finally gets her. This scene could also be seen as Johannes just dreaming about it. Both interpretations make sense.

I think the movie overall is a a great piece of work!

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