Starring Benno Fürmann, Nina Hoss, Hilmi Sözer, André Hennicke, Claudia Geisler, Marie Gruber and Knut Berger.
Screenplay by Christian Petzold.
Directed by Christian Petzold.
Distributed by The Cinema Guild. 93 minutes. Not Rated.
Last year, German writer/director Christian Petzold created a moody reinvention of the 60s drive-in classic Carnival of Souls with his film Yella. His follow-up is also inspired by an older story, though this one is even less faithful to its loose inspiration – this time James M. Cain’s sultry novel The Postman Always Rings Twice.
Jerichow is not a straight remake of that noir classic, however it is quite obviously patterned after the tale – a guy moves into a town and becomes involved with a local couple, befriending the older man and beginning an affair with the younger wife. Of course, that is not going to work out well for anyone.
Benno Fürmann plays Thomas, a penniless German former soldier who goes home when his mother dies, living in her old home and looking for work.
Eventually he essentially falls into a job as a driver for a middle-aged Turkish émigré named Ali (Hilmi Sözer) – who has lost his license because of a drinking problem. Ali has become well off owning a series of snack bars around their depressed section of the German countryside. (The title refers to the town they live in.)
Through his job, he also meets Ali’s wife Laura, a much younger German woman played by Nina Hess – who was so good in the title role in Petzold’s Yella. Thomas can’t figure why she stays with the older man – particularly when he realizes that Ali is insanely jealous and apparently beating her.
They get involved in an affair and only when he is ensnared in it does Thomas realize how ruthless she can also be.
It becomes a triangle of treachery, with all three characters flirting with disaster as they all slip farther and farther from their better natures. This leads to a labyrinthine dance of lies and betrayals – one that no one will come out of unscathed.
It’s a well-known storyline, but Jerichow tells it with suspense and style – and jiggers the storyline enough to still surprise.
I’m looking forward to seeing what classic Petzold takes on next.
Copyright ©2009 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: May 7, 2009.