Film Review: JERICHOW

Directed and Written by Christian Petzold
In German with English subtitles
Starring Benno Furmann, Nina Hoss, Hilmi Sozer
Running time 91 minutes

Jerichow (directed by Christian Petzold) is named for the town of its setting, an area that was once part of East Germany and is still economically blighted. Although on the surface, it appears to be a retread of the themes and plot of THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE, it goes its own way fairly quickly. Whereas Cain was mostly interested in the wife and the drifter, Petzold is more interesting in the Greek, or in this case, the Turk, the older husband. This is a film about being an outsider and bears some resemblance thematically to DISTRICT NINE.

PLOT: Ali, a Turk, has managed to attain some success in his adopted country of Germany. Still an outsider on the inside though, he mistrusts those who works for him in his small chain of snack shops. He especially mistrusts his wife, Laura, who he strong-armed into marrying him by paying off her debts. The two live an isolated existence running his business until Ali decided he needs some muscle to help him collect money and serve as his chaffeur.

Thomas, a recent widower, the victim of a robbery and recently discharged dishonorably from the German army, comes into Ali’s radar and is hired to fulfill this role. Ali immediately begins to rely on the younger man, even making a friend of him.

But Ali is as paranoid as ever and it is this paranoia that drives the plot.
At times it seems like Ali is deliberately setting the two up so the scenario he envisions will turn out to be true. The film ends in expected and unexpected ways.

This is certainly a noirish film but it is also about paranoia and alienation. It is quick-paced and compelling. None of the characters were particularly sympathetic, which added to the noirish feel. Highly recommended for those who like such tales. This is playing in art houses but should be available on DVD soon.

Patti Abbott
Patti Abbott writes crime fiction short stories. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at http://pattinase.blogspot.com. She hopes you’ll join in.