Thursday, August 6, 2009

Jerichow fails to generate much suspense

Posted By on Thu, Aug 6, 2009 at 2:00 PM

click to enlarge LADY IN WAITING: Nina Hoss as Laura
  • LADY IN WAITING: Nina Hoss as Laura

In the German film noir Jerichow, leggy Nina Hoss plays an unhappily married blonde named Laura, and it’s no coincidence that she shares a name with the classic detective movie Laura from 1944. Filmmaker Christian Petzold uses Jerichow to revisit classic film noir themes, notably the violent intersection of physical desire and financial need. Jerichow sets up a romantic triangle with viciously sharp angles, but never generates much suspense.

The film intriguingly introduces its taciturn antihero, Thomas (Benno Fürmann), who wants to renovate his recently deceased mother’s house and owes money to a loan shark. The audience must piece together his backstory. He provides the barest hints about his background as an Afghan war vet, and explores a bleak new life of government assistance and day labor in German farm country. Thomas plays the good samaritan when his rich, drunken neighbor Ali Özkan (Hilmi Sözer) drives off the road. Owner of 45 area snack bars, Ali hires Thomas to be his new driver and right-hand man. Thomas quickly notices the run-down beauty of Ali’s wife Laura. He also notices that Ali has a brutal temper and frequently spies on Laura.

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(Image courtesy The Cinema Guild)

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