At the New York Film Festival: Everyone Else

10/05/2009 3:02 PM |


Everyone Else, from writer-director Maren Ade, screens at 6pm this evening at the New York Film Festival; tickets are still available. The film is currently without distribution.

Perhaps little of what gets praised about Everyone Else will thrill people into going, yet Maren Ade’s journey with a twenty-something couple drifting apart is a highlight of this year’s festival. Moody not-quite-emerging architect Chris (Lars Eidinger) and spirited girlfriend Gitti (Birgit Minichmayr), a PR flak, are hanging out at a parent’s empty vacation house in Sardinia. He’s pulling away, and frustrated by unfulfilled ambitions; she’s unsettled and trying various angles on his reserve. Excelling at directing her actors, and adept at finding humor and missing-last-step chokes alike, Ade has made a strangely calm yet charged drama about a highly specific but rarely captured portion of a relationship. This is the unnerving crackle in the air before a storm, followed by the realization that the storm has hit and gone before you knew it was happening.

The young couple’s involuntary self-examination is partly catalyzed by the maddening example of coupledom posed by Chris’s blustery friend Hans (Hans-Jochen Wagner) and his subservient mate Sana (Nicole Marischka). But as Chris and Gitti skulk about the house and in town, or go on a mountain hike that’s harrowing for more than physical reasons, Everyone Else nails how these feelings also occupy an expansive emotional sense of time, transcending particular spats and moments. (Though Ade’s dialogue captures those terrible and wondrous moments well, e.g. Chris’s hard “Why do you think you know me so well?”). Scenes from a Marriage, Voyage to Italy, and other such chronicles have been oft-cited predecessors, but the specifics and demographics of Ade’s work are distinct, without feeling voyeuristic or glib in the manner of other such descendants.