In November 1939, Georg Elser's attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler fails, and he is arrested. During his confinement, he recalls the events leading up to his plot and his reasons for deciding to take such drastic action.
For two weeks, 20 male participants are hired to play prisoners and guards in a prison. The "prisoners" have to follow seemingly mild rules, and the "guards" are told to retain order without using physical violence.
The true story of the German mafia hitman, Giorgio Basile, AKA "Angel Face", who was connected to the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta crime syndicate and became a state witness against the Italian mafia in 1998.
This must be the role an actress would kill for. Especially if that actress reached the age when good roles become rarer and rarer. Hannelore Elsner has reached that age, but that doesn't prevent her from triumphing in those roles most of her fellow actresses can only dream about: after (justly) receiving all important film awards Germany has to offer for her brilliant performance in 'Die Unberührbare' (aka 'No Place to Go'), playing a disillusioned writer after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Oliver Hirschbiegel, director of 'Das Experiment', offers her the chance to play an aging actress explaining herself into a camera.
One would think that a movie which basically shows nothing but an actress packing a suitcase and talking about her life, her men, her career would become boring after some time. But no, we become more and more interested in that woman standing there talking to (and about) the people who were the center of her life: the director she was married to for a long time and she is still working with on a TV series, the football trainer whose love she was and the politician whose secret affair she was. During all these revelations she's packing a few things together to leave (where she wants to go is one of the few things she doesn't talk about), and when the 90 minutes are over and the tape is full, we feel a little sad because we wanted that woman to go on talking.
As the film (i.e. the film-in-film) is not supposed to be shown to the public she's telling very intimate details of her life: Her concerns about growing older or her relationship with Bess, a girl she knows already from school, belong to that category. The story of her daughter is so private that not even the young cameraman (the only other person seen in the film) is supposed to hear it. But as, on the other hand, she's convinced someone will pass it to the public, she tries to keep it entertaining: When she's mocking the clichés, she's forced to go through again and again for her TV series or when she's showing the awards she won (Elsner's awards, of course),when she's reading fantail, when she's showing pictures from the time when she was younger.
Of course you need a terrific actress to dare to make such a film, and Hannelore Elsner is the right choice. She's always hits the perfect note and knows how to handle the material to keep the audience interested; there's a good chance that she will win once again several awards for this stunning performance.
As Hirschbiegel's 'Das Experiment' was quite successful in the rest of the world, there's a good chance this movie will be shown out of Germany at least on festivals. I don't know how it works with subtitles, as the lines of Elsner's monologue are the heart of the film, but everyone who speaks German should not miss this film!
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