A group of German construction workers start a tough job at a remote site in the Bulgarian countryside. The foreign land awakens the men's sense of adventure, but they are also confronted with their own prejudice and mistrust due to the language barrier and cultural differences. The stage is quickly set for a showdown when men begin to compete for recognition and favor from the local villagers.
Watch the DVD extra interview with the German director, Grisebach. She says she grew up in W Berlin watching American westerns on TV and that this movie originates from that experience. Sorry, she's hallucinating. There's nothing here that remotely resembles an American "western" (her references: Ford and Mann). The title of this film, "Western," is thus jive.
Like a post-modern, identity politics drone she talks about the "closed-off masculinity" of westerns. She talks of interviewing American construction workers and finding some connection between their "closed-off masculinity" and that of western heroes; I worked construction after college and can attest hers is elitist identity politics, fear & loathing of healthy male heterosexuality, what her brain-washed ilk spurn as "toxic masculinity." Sad: politically correct fascists like her have lost connection to common sense and the ground.
Despite this, fortunately, this film grinds out a slow-paced, compelling drama of distinctly European (not "western") tensions: Germany vs. everyone (Germany both as past Nazi invader and present economic boss), prosperous west vs. poor east Europe, and obnoxious urban industrial workers vs. pure, rural bumpkins. The unspoken issue is the identity of Europe in the face of immigrant invasion. The protagonist, an outsider who sports a thick "Western" mustache, bridges the gap between his peers, pig German construction workers, and humble, timeless Bulgarian villagers (and is attacked by both). The key moment, the "truth" of this film, occurs when a Bulgarian asks this wandering stranger what he's looking for.
Yes, the movie could have been shortened by 10-20 minutes. Yes, it could have benefited from closer integration of its theme, instead of meandering. Still, despite this, characters live and breathe, the details are right, and it held my rapt attention from beginning to end.
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