10/11/2006 12:00 AM |

The peculiar possession that befell the German student Anneliese Michel in 1976 inspired The Exorcism of Emily Rose, but no other film has approached the subject with the restraint German director Hans-Christian Schmid exercises in Requiem. Impeccably bleak Bavarian landscapes and a neutral palate subdue a film that is, in contrast, about one young woman’s hysteria.

Upon arrival at University, the pious Michaela (Sandra Hüller) encounters the sexually liberated youth culture of 70s Germany. Though her embrace of the time is cautious, feelings of guilt lead her to experience seizures that posses her with a hatred for prayer. Her once-saintly behavior unravels on the dance floor as she convulses alone to the dark prog of Deep Purple. With the exception of the requisite melodrama – the breaking of plates, the smugness of insanity that plays out on Hüller’s face – what makes this film striking is that Schmid can insinuate derangement simply by showing a single missed button on a nice girl’s shirt.
Opens October 20