Samstag, 16. Februar 2013

Berlinale: Uroki Garmonii (Harmony Lessons) / Layla Fourie

Kazakhstani director Emir Baigazin made his phenomenal feature film debut with competition title "Uroki Garmonii (Harmony Lessons)". The bully/revenge story itself doesn't break any grounds, but the way in which the birth and spread of terror and violence on school campus is mapped here is remarkable. The minimalist composition contributed to an eerie calmness and unsettling clarity with which the perversion is observed. While the torture scenes along with their undertones of regime critique may be handled a bit heavy-handedly, the general impression left by this film is that of cool objectivity and stifling precision. In its final frame, beneath the bleak, lyrical lakeview, you could just about hear the boy killer's silent screams.

Pia Marais' "Layla Fourie", a moral thriller set in South Africa, is a middling affair that doesn't belong in the competition line-up. While the premise of a lie detector operator having to lie in the wake of a fatal accident has potential for greatness, the wooden writing didn't give the characters depth nor made their dilemma relatable, so the moral aspect of the story never had any teeth. Add to that an undistinguished direction with no sense for real suspense, and even the thriller aspect came away curiously thrill-free. Lead actress Rayna Campbell has the regal presence and immaculate diction to play a woman with a secret but was given much too little to work with.

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