What struck me from beginning to end was that all facts and backgrounds of the respective characters were presented at the right moment, something that helps greatly in understanding how the narrative flows. Many other films leave us too much to outguess, even some from experienced directors and script writers who ought to know better.
The mother figure is set out from the start as someone who always gets what she wants, either by pulling strings via someone she knows socially or professionally, or by bribing people when the need arises. The openings scenes show her birthday party, where we see many important people, setting out very clearly the social circles she normally frequents. In the police station we see her using her "network" by contacting higher echelons to smooth the process. And she promises a favor to one of the policemen whose house is threatened to be torn down, since it is deemed too close to the beach as a result of changed housing rules, and as an expert (being an architect) she knows how to bend the rules in such cases.
Of course, the best example of how she tries to adapt an unwelcome truth in her favor, is when she attempts to bribe the chief witness. An interesting negotiation process follows, making very clear to us that she is used to obtain the desired outcome much faster than is happening in this case. Contrary to popular belief, money is not always sufficient. Her obvious contempt for people not belonging to her "class", proves to be a stumbling block here. Will she ever learn that one can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar?? One of her obvious faults is exposed here.
But there is more along this line. A still more important shortcoming is her insensitivity for internal relationships within her family, firstly with her son who is a crucial factor in this story but not at all happy with her efforts to keep him out of jail, and secondly with her husband who admits to have been the lenient partner until now but is not prepared to go on like this. It takes her plenty of time to start grasping what is happening here, proverbially as if her world is crumbling down under her hands. It is obvious that she means well, but trying to bend things her way seems a mere automatism, without even bothering to ask if someone wants her meddling.
A mere side effect of seeing this film is that I forgot everything I've ever read about Eastern European countries, like inefficient police force, lazy bureaucrats, retarded technology, etcetera. This film shows that all of this is not true. The police acts very competently, at least in the scenes we see in this film, and we have no clue that this is not standard operating procedure. Same applies to the doctor who was needed for the alcohol test, and the forensic expert who assesses the damage of the car in order to draw conclusions about the accident. Moreover, technology (gadgets) wise it looks not different from what we have here in Western Europe. In other words, sightseeing (more or less) this former communist country was an extra surprise for me.
Though reluctantly, a considerable part of the family travels to the house of the killed child to meet the parents. Their prime purpose was to offer that they pay for the funeral, but effectively turning out very different from the short, obligatory and cold visit they originally had in mind. Judge for yourself when seeing this important scene whether there is eventually a spark of human contact between the two families.
All in all, I have only positive things to say about this film. I cannot agree with any of the two negative user reviews on IMDb posted before. What else can I add, other than applauding the decision of the Berlinale jury and the high average score of 8.7 given by 145 IMDb users.