Young artist Kurt Barnert (Tom Schilling) has fled to West-Germany, but he continues to be tormented by the experiences he made in his childhood and youth in the Nazi years and during the GDR-regime. When he meets the student Ellie (Paula Beer), he is convinced that he has met the love of his life and begins to create paintings that mirror not only his own fate, but also the traumas of an entire generation.Written by
Wiedemann & Berg Film
Official submission of Germany for the 'Best Foreign Language Film' category of the 91th Academy Awards in 2019. See more »
At one point Carl Seeband mentions that Mozart was dead by the time he was 30. This is incorrect, Mozart was 35 when he died. (Although he could be lying to try and convince Kurt to give up Art). See more »
"Never Look Away" is a seriously good movie. It tells the life of Kurt, a German artist born just before the Nazis took power, who survives the war and studies in East Germany under the Communists, eventually ending up in West Germany and trying to find his own style.
The story is engrossing, the acting is good, there are some beautiful nude scenes, excellent camera work, interesting characters, and the insight that all totalitarian societies treat their artists as means to an end. What stops it getting a rating of 10/10 is that everything is just a bit too much.
Kurt's beloved aunt Elizabeth, an early victim of the Nazis, is heartbreakingly, almost inhumanly, beautiful. Perhaps she is seen that way by her 8-year-old nephew; but he already shows the precocious artistic talent to see things as they really are.
There is a Bad Guy in the film, and he is unremittingly, almost inhumanly, bad. This is not just an artistic failing. By having the Bad Guy so evil, it tends to distract the viewer from the fact that the Holocaust was conducted by ordinary people, not super-villains.
The film is long, at 3 hours and 8 minutes. It doesn't feel like that, and I didn't find myself looking at my watch. But it could have lost, say, half an hour, and would have been better for it.
And the music is a bit overdone, a bit too emphatic.
"Never Look Away" is a very good film that could have been better.
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