- English subtitles
‘But surely there has to be beauty and love in the world?!’ Grumpy documentary film maker Franziska calls out to her boyfriend at the kitchen table. Franziska, alongside all the other characters in the colorful mosaic Finsterworld (‘dark universe’), is always searching for more.
More love, more meaning and more happiness, preferably super sized. Will she find what she is looking for? Don’t expect a sugar-coated Hollywood story here: Finsterworld was inspired by Ghost World, the graphic novel about two cynical teenagers who are too cool for school.
A cute Cat Stevens song and the warm sunlight at the start of the internationally acclaimed Finsterworld are anything but a prelude to an artificial happy end. As in real life, the characters are more often facing down than up. First-time fiction director Frauke Finsterwalder (1975) may have a slightly cynical outlook on life, but at least it is honest. It is also, thankfully, compassionate. The necessary moments of joy and tenderness make it easier to bear. As – exactly – in real life.
Besides the temperamental film maker and her boyfriend Tom, the film has five other straightforward storylines: a hermit living in a forest, a gay beautician, an old lady in a retirement home, teenagers on a school trip to a concentration camp and a horrible couple on their way back from vacation. For better or worse, they are all connected through chance encounters, mutual friendships and family ties. We follow each of their lives in turn.
Director and scenario writer Finsterwalder has a striking eye for visual detail and dialogue, from one of the students’ careful covering of a gas station toilet seat with tissue paper to the poignant and wonderfully dry conversations. Finsterwalder’s observational style and the obvious empathy she has for her rather queer characters are reminiscent of Anne Banhoorns beautiful screenplay for De Ontmaagding van Eva van End (2012).
The acting is equally great. Sandra Hüller, whom we’ve seen in Nanouk Leopold’s Brownian Movement, impressively portrays the documentary film maker, and with a headlining performance by acting veteran Corinna Harfouch as the spoilt wife, Finsterwalder presents us with a cast to die for. Rich production design and stylish cinematography finish it off. And after watching Finsterworld, you’ll never look at homemade ‘secret recipe’ cookies the same way ever again…