“Finsterworld”. 2013, Germany. Directed by Frauke Finsterwalder , written by Frauke Finsterwalder and Christian Kracht. Starring Christoph Bach, Margit Carstensen, Jakub Gierszal.
A solitary man who loves nature more than people, a quirky pedicurist visiting an elderly lady, students marching in to tour a concentration camp, a police officer with his egocentric girlfriend, and a rich German couple who hates Germany. They all have their eccentricities ranging from just plain weird to “batshit” crazy. And all their stories interconnect in this highly enjoyable ride through “Finsterworld” – a feature debut imagined, co-written and directed by Frauke Finsterwalder.
A recluse picks up and carries a wounded raven back to his solitary shed where he gently splashes the bird with water. This gives an excuse to indicate the fuzzy warmness felt inside with an “aww”, which is almost immediately overwhelmed by a prolonged “mm” as you reach the heights of aesthetic pleasure thanks to Markus Föderer’s cinematography. Lots of beautiful scenes that last long enough to be enjoyed: alluring landscapes and attractive close-ups adorned with beautiful lighting and warm colours. And all of this accompanied by the equally ear pleasing soundtrack.
But before you get a chance to excuse yourself in front of other viewers for all the sounds of enjoyment, the film moves on to telling another strand of the story – we are introduced to the middle-aged wife (Corinna Harfouch, star of the “Downfall”) and her overprotective husband. Though the skillful editing connects the colourful array of stories well, leaving no time for any meaningless scenes, some of them do feel a bit dragged out in the second half of the film.
The pedicurist and a lonely client sharing cookies together is both hilarious and absurd. But the laughter fades and absurdity is replaced by sadness as the young student verbally expresses the director’s criticism of modern Germany. The point is emphasized not only by the constant visual reminders of old Germany, but also by the last two Finstercharacters. The relationship between the cop and his girlfriend shows us that it’s not the bats in the belfry, but utter loneliness and inability to communicate that drives them to their eccentricities. This is the “Finsterworld” where precisely crafted coincidence connects its lonely inhabitants in an ambitious, but very much needed wake-up call. Nowadays, when more and more people are left unsure how and where to look for love and acceptance, this film does make a strong point. And it keeps shouting through every scene that even if it’s German, furry and has claws, it also needs to be loved.