Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Prinzessin (Princess)

I was totally prepared to watch this movie as I really read about it before watching. What called my attention was that most commented about the story being about young women and female violence. Perhaps because I was ‘prepared’ the movie actually didn’t shock me or make me believe that this was a violent movie, even when three times there is mild violence among the girls. Then the film surprised me, as it was a lot better than what I could expect.

This debut film co written and directed by Birgit Grosskopf has a cinematography that looks impeccable, almost aseptic that totally contrasts with some of the images we see and has some interesting framing that gives depth when is visually needed. Then has a rhythm that is not violent at all, as has a slow pace, not many dialogues and very acceptable performances by actors, especially one of the leads Irina Potapneko that plays Katharina, the girl with Russian background among the group of primarily German girls.

What you’ll see in the screen is an odd group of four girls, one perhaps 9 years-old and the other three in her older teens that during the week between Christmas and New Years wander around a bland and insipid suburb doing not much… except, some violent acts against other groups of women, stealing money, drinking and being just mean. But you also will see the background of two of them, their family behavior and rejection from their peers. All happening one day before the oldest, Yvonne, has to go to prison.

So, according to me the story has many layers beyond the violent and delinquent acts they do, there is racism, parents’ rejection or not paying much attention to their kids, solitude and little hope for the future, etc. Then the only coherent moments in their lives is when the four hang together wandering with no direction at all. It’s a crude and raw story in a quite “clean” and arty movie.

The movie was critically acclaimed and has been screened in many European festivals. It won the Prize of the Minister President of the State of Saarland and was nominated for the Max Ophüls Award at the 2006 Max Ophüls Festival.

Absolutely not for all audiences and even if there’s a secondary lesbian character and there is lesbian interest subtext I cannot give it the label, as the purpose of this film has nothing to do with the label. I believe that this film is suited for those that like European cinema and especially the New German Cinema that is bringing very “clean” cinematography to tell the most unusual stories.

I liked the movie a lot more than I could have imagined and honestly, the little violence didn’t bother me that much as when it comes to violence you have American cinema doing worst things in the screen. Then I believe that perhaps what bothers some viewers is not what they see in the screen but the appalling idea of women being violent with other women.


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