Running time: 119 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 18
UK release date: 13th November 2009
Watched on Sky+ Tuesday 14th December 2010.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
NOTE: Black and White and in German with subtitles… Turn back now if you can’t deal with subtitles and/or Black and White movies.
Film critic Mark Kermode describes this as “A subtitled black and white film about precision anxiety.” Personally, I’m still undecided about it. Maybe I haven’t watched enough films yet, but I feel there’s something I’m missing here. This film has had a lot of praise, even winning the Palm D’Or at Cannes, but I’m struggling to see why. I’m sure there’s someone out there who can explain it to me. But I digress, here’s a brief summary before I tell you my thoughts (summary haters please guard the Baron’s cabbage patch while I write the next paragraph).
It is Germany in 1913, just before the outbreak of World War I. The setting is a small village in northern Germany, a place where the rather straight-laced residents are about to suffer several unfortunate and mystifying events. First off an accident which results in a serious injury to the village doctor has everyone baffled. Then the son of the Baron, who owns much of the land around the village, is kidnapped and beaten by persons unknown. And there are several other events that occur throughout the film, some of which are explained, but others that remain a mystery. I really cant add much more, there are relationship issues involving the doctor and a bit of a burgeoning love story between the teacher (and narrator), and the nanny employed by the Baroness, Eva, but I guess that’s all I can say about the plot without giving too much away.
Whilst watching the film I have the impression that the children maybe know something about the trouble in the village, but none of them are letting on. I guess it’s deliberately left open to interpretation. Decent performances from all of the cast, in particular; Christian Friedel as The School Teacher, Leonie Benesch as Eva, Burghart Klaußner was particularly good as The Pastor and Maria-Victoria Dragus as Klara.
I feel a bit bad that I cannot give a higher score, I did want to like this film but it just didn’t do anything for me. There are many out there, I’m sure, who totally get this one and I bow to your superior film knowledge. Maybe I will re-visit this one in years to come and see the critically acclaimed film I am supposed to. For now, only recommended for those who get it… But I guess you won’t know that until you’ve seen it.
My score: 6.2/10
IMDb Page: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt1149362/
Official Site: http://www.sonyclassics.com/thewhiteribbon/