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I had the chance to see the German movie Stereo early during a Sneak Preview. The impression with which I left the cinema was largely positive mainly due to the strong performances of Jürgen Vogel and Moritz Bleibtreu as well as some nice shots and camera work.
The story starts with Erik, played by Jürgen Vogel, receiving a ticket for speeding on the way to his girlfriend Julia. Together with her daughter they lead a quiet life in the countryside. The plot starts to unfold when one day Erik's work as a motorcycle mechanic is disturbed by the arrival of gypsies and the appearance of a mysterious hooded man, who is played by Moritz Bleibtreu.
From here on the story convinces with some nice turning points and surprises, although some of them can be easily anticipated as the plot progresses. The most interesting part for me was the development of the relation between Erik and the character played by Bleibtreu, which worked really well. With the focus on these characters I could not help myself but feel disinterested in the fates of Erik's girlfriend and her family (not to mention the gypsies).
One of my main gripes with the movie is therefore the slow and boring family scenes. Some of which contain slow motion shots combined with a soundtrack that I did not find fitting. Still the music convinces in many other parts of the film and underlines many great shots, notably during the outdoor scenes.
In my opinion, another flaw of the movie is its overdone profanity. While I enjoyed the comedic remarks by Bleibtreu's character a lot of the misogynistic comments and portrayals found in the film seem overdone. I think the movie could achieve the same result, i.e. depicting the bad guys as really evil men, with a more subtle tone, especially since we have Julia's family as a stark contrast. Furthermore, I found the performance of Erik's adversary Keitel with his strong Austrian accent convincing enough to also justify a more unobtrusive dialogue and imagery without watering down the characters too much.
All in all, Stereo is an entertaining and gripping thriller. It manages to compensate for its slow parts with good performances by its two lead actors and the development of the relatable characters they play. The plot will keep you interested to see what's next despite rather predictable twists and revelations. You should not be easily offended by strong language and explicit images though.
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