Review: Auf Einmal (2016)


Auf Einmal (2016)

Directed by: Asli Özge | 112 minutes | drama | Actors: Sebastian Hülk, Julia Jentsch, Hanns Zischler, Sascha Alexander Gersak, Luise Heyer, Lea Draeger, Natalia Belitski, Christoph Gawenda, Atef Vogel, Mareile Blendl, Matthias Brüggenolte, Simon Eckert, Michael A. Grimm, Maria Hartmann, Stefan Lampadius, Rainer Laupichler

Ominous cinematography, sparse narrative structure, that’s how you could describe the beginning of ‘Auf Einmal’. As always in film, you should not jump to conclusions too quickly, because the lack of information can have dramatic added value, especially in a thriller setting. Karsten (Sebastian Hülk) kisses a young woman in an apartment who is the only one left behind after a party, moments later she is unconscious and he runs to a GP post that is closed; when she returns she is dead.

Restrained emotions, cool images. ‘Auf Einmal’ even reminds a bit of ‘De Eetclub’. At first you think of television drama, a Northern European crimi. Not something to get addicted to after watching for fifteen minutes, nor is it repulsive. Technically good, substantive waiting. The focus remains on Karsten, an apparently average, not unattractive bank employee who turns out to be married to a businesswoman (Julia Jentsch), but who is also anchored in the warm nest of his parents.

Sometimes a reviewer needs a lot of words, because he doesn’t see it. ‘Auf Einmal’ may have too many recognizable elements to be recognizable. Such as the degree of calculation in modern relationships, based on business or functional contact. In fact, we don’t want to see our society become this way because we’re too socially adapted to do it differently. As individuals, however, we remain irrational beings, while we think we can perfect life.

Interesting enough, but is this theme sufficiently elaborated? In ‘Auf Einmal’ dialogues are used quite sparingly, while a thriller needs that. But it wasn’t a thriller, more a morality sketch? Problematic in this light too, because director Asli Özge is not Lynch or Almodóvar, authors who mix genres with great ease. She is a good television director with dramatic limitations. The question arises whether the main character is interesting enough.

Of course the police and Karsten’s wife want to know the bottom line; of course Karsten wants to keep the damage limited on all fronts. check. Of course the group of friends supports Karsten, but you also see them doubting; of course a director wants to leave the viewer guessing about Karsten’s actions. Double check. Will the key scene with the widower (Sascha Alexander Gersak) help? Although ‘Auf Einmal’ offers enough material for a full-length film, the promise arising from the theme in the second half of the film is not completely fulfilled.

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