Directed by Maren Ade
After watching Everyone Else, you are reminded just how rarely movies about relationships capture what really goes on between a couple (especially those purportedly about â€œwhat really goes onâ€�). Not only that, but Maren Adeâ€™s superbly realized feature attends to the murkiest phase, and maybe the hardest to dramatize: the drift, the shift in the weather system that develops between two people—when something is afoot, but nobody knows how far it might go.
Everyone Else sets us down in media res, though it doesnâ€™t immediately seem so, blurring points of departure and subtly simulating the feelings of knowing and not knowing. Chris (Lars Eidinger) and Gitti (Birgit Minichmayr) are first shown wrangling kids, but not their own, by the pool of a Mediterranean house, which belongs to his parents. Theyâ€™re nominally on vacation; heâ€™s an architect stalking grants, she a PR flak for a band, mollifying by cellphone. What evolves is partly a shifting study in outward/inward contrasts—her splattery approach to talking things out, his cards-held-close standoffishness—though that familiar template plays out differently and freshly from scene to scene, anchored in terrific performances by Eidinger and Minichmayr.
Adeâ€™s foil for the two is Chrisâ€™s successful hail-fellow-and-well-met friend, Hans (also an architect), and his subservient wife Sana. Their presence underlines how the drama of relationships is not just a figure of speech. Hans and Sana have their public routine down, making for some spectacularly cutting reactive sparks at a dinner with Chris and Gitti. But, as with the rest of her filmmaking (and telegraphed in her agonizingly true portrait of a schoolteacher struggling to find purchase in a new town, Forest for the Trees), Ade doesnâ€™t push her points through with over-wise or dressed-down lines (a la Baumbach or Bujalski).
Deep inside the coupleâ€™s rhythms, Adeâ€™s foreshortening (and foreshadowing) of events is extraordinarily accomplished and seamless. She excels at directing her actors andâ€”lest this endeavor sound like a tape slowly dying in a recorderâ€”brings out the humor and absurdity along with the missing-last-step chokes. As Gitti (with flung-out posture) tries different angles on Chrisâ€™s barbed reserve, each pushes and pulls away, whether roaming about town or on a mountain hike thatâ€™s harrowing for more than physical reasons. Eventually, weâ€™re at the point Kent Jones captured in his advance write-up: â€œAt a certain ridiculous moment, everything is intended to not be read definitively, so that responsibility for the end of love can always be pinned on the other.â€� See it with someone you loved?
Opens April 9 at IFC Center