Berlin Diary 10: Dark lives. Low-key sci-fi. India of the 1920s.

Posted on February 25, 2018


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IIt’s been a while since I’ve seen a movie as still as Thomas Stuber’s In den Gängen (In the Aisles), which tells the affecting story of Christian (Franz Rogowski), the new employee in a wholesale supermarket someplace in contemporary East Germany. In 2001: A Space Odyssey, Kubrick used the Blue Danube waltz to depict the dance-like movement of spaceships in the midst of a vast nothingness. Stuber uses this music similarly, in the opening scene, depicting the “choreography”of a forklift in the store during the late shift. The enormous spaces, with the endless aisles, are another kind of cold, inhuman nothingness.

Christian is a meek man, silent to the point of catatonia — and Rogowski’s face is inscrutable. But there are signs of a mysterious inner life. The unexpectedly vivid tattoos covering his hands and neck. The rowdy old pals who look like the last people he’d hang out with. (They mock that he’s now turned “reputable.”) But mostly, in the way he responds to Marion (Sandra Hüller) from the confectionary department, the way he stares at her hairband after she misplaces it, the way he looks at her when they finally have a cup of coffee, his eyes travelling slowly — almost imperceptibly — from the badge on her chest to her ear piercings to the necklace that rests on her downy sweater. You could describe him as quietly intense. You could also call him creepy.

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Posted in: Cinema: Foreign