Montag, 10. Februar 2014

Berlinale: 魔警 (That Demon Within) / Die geliebten Schwestern (The Beloved Sisters)

Hong Kong police thriller "魔警 (That Demon Within)" is an unqualified mess. In its 2-hour running time, somehow (poorly choreographed) mass shoot-outs, robberies, double-crosses, demonic possession, schizophrenic killer, repressed trauma all play a role in a loud, clunky, deadly humorless splatter-fest. Director 林超賢 (Dante Lam) fails at the most fundamental storytelling and shows nothing resembling an artistic vision here, jambling incoherent plotlines together with such panicky cuts under such unflattering guise that the film doesn't just bore the eyes but borders on the incomprehensible. 吳彥祖 (Daniel Wu) is a good actor but as the possessed/schizophrenic/repressed cop gone evil he doesn't seem to know what he's doing half the time. All-out genre fares could be welcomed riots at film festivals, but this movie has neither the polished craftsmanship nor the playful tone to be called entertaining.

It's a shame that German competition entry "Die geliebten Schwestern (The Beloved Sisters)" outstays its welcome by running that extra hour, because what it achieves in the first two is quite remarkable: a ginger, finely nuanced, Jane Austen-esque romantic comedy about the relationship between famed poet Friedrich Schiller and the two Lengefeld sisters. Classical in its visual design and verbal elegance but infused by director Dominik Graf with a sharp, contemporarized sensibility, the courtship and the ensuing game of hearts unfold with wonderful fluidity and infectious amorousness. All three lead actors are excellent, offering portrayals of three distinct personalities that are each lovable in its own way and together promise chemical reaction of every sort. The last third of the film makes itself felt not only for the sheer length, but also because the refreshing, post-modern take on ménage à trois regrettably gets crushed by the oh-so-conventional sentiments of jealousy and proprietorship aka human nature. Technical aspects of the movie are all pro, the score, especially, providing surprising, highly effective notes of uproarious joy and ominous gloom, is a highlight.

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