Yella is estranged from her possessive and violent husband; but he can't quite bring himself to give her up. When their fraught interaction finally comes to dramatic conclusion, Yella's life takes an odd shift.
Christian Petzold's drama deals with a woman, who leaves her hometown for a promising job and a new life, but is haunted by the truths of the past. As her marriage to Ben broke and her professional career has no future in her native town in the Eastern part of Germany, Yella has decided to search for a job in the West. When she gets to know Philipp, a smart executive at a private equity company in Hanover, she becomes his assistant and gets involved into the world of ruthless and big business. Realizing her dreams could come true with Philipp's help, she starts hearing voices and sounds from her past, which menace her new and better life...Written by
In my opinion Christian Petzel is one of the most prominent German directors of the new century. It amazes me how low his films are usually rated.
With respect to "Yella" a possible explanation could be that the story is complicated. The film has a surprising ending (about which I shall say nothing in this review), but even including this ending there remains much to think about.
Despite or perhaps thanks to this complicated plot the film is very rewarding. It is situated in impersonal and distant environments such as highways, business motels and conference rooms. The facial expressions (amazement, disbelief, amusement) of main character Yella (Nina Hoss) contributes more to the story than the often somewhat disguised dialogue.
In the film Yella forms more and more a duo with Philipp (Devid Striesow), a shady venture capitalist who tries to buy firms in distress at a very low price and thereby explores and transcends the limits of the law.
Illuminating is the scene in which Philipp puts Yella to a test. He asks her to deposit some cash money on a bank account and gives her an exces of cash. Will she return the "spare change" to him or not? Initially she does not. It remains unclear of she thereby was failing or passing the test. Personally I think she is passing it, proving that she too could embezzle money when opportunity knocks.
Important in my opinion is that Philipp is much like Ben (Hinnerk Schönemann), the ex of Yella. Philipp has the same character and the same physical appearance as Ben, being only a little smarter and more succesful. Given the fact that Yella and Ben are from East Germany (Wittenburg) and Philipp from West Germany, there seems to be some symbolism hinting at the re-unification.
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