Montag, 30. Juni 2014

Filmfest München: Nachthelle (Bright Night)

It takes a lot to establish and maintain sexual tension within a group dynamic on screen and making a good scary movie has never been easy. So when young German writer/director Florian Gottschick sets out to achieve both at once with his feature film debut "Nachthelle (Bright Night)" and fails quite abysmally, one shouldn't be too hard on him. At least he leaps high and crashes with admirable intentions.

Revolving around four principal players in a reunion of sorts on childhood grounds, this mix of intimate chamber drama/quasi-ghost story starts off promisingly enough. Following a hypnotizing 360-degree opening pan shot, hints of unquiet soon creep all over in dashing images of a dilapidated rural neighborhood, awkward attempts at conversations suggest a shared past with unspoken feelings and unfinished business. But when it's time for the second act to take things up a notch and the third to bring it all home, this movie comes up short and starts resorting to cheap thriller tricks. It's one thing when a masterful work of suspense seems so mystifying as to defy all possible explanations but compels all the same, and quite another when a film just goes out of its way to confuse by moving in metaphysical circles without a thought for logic, meaning, context. If there's one more "Waking-Up-Oh-It's-Just-a-Dream-or-Was-It?"-moment in this movie, I might need to scream.

The cast is fine, if not given particularly interesting roles to play. The whole personality split angle and the presumed to be dynamite ménage-à-quatre aspect are wasted and bring nothing new to their respective genres. As arbitrary and confounding as it is, the sex scene near the end feels neither erotic nor unsettling and seems more like an overcompensating afterthought than anything.

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