Thursday, May 31, 2007

Requiem (2006, Hans-Christian Schmid)

Would make an interesting double bill with BREAKING THE WAVES, another naturalistic, 70s-set film about the convergence between faith and mental illness. If REQUIEM isn't quite the film WAVES is, it's because Schmid doesn't aim for transcendence the way Von Trier does. But then, transcendence doesn't really fit with this story, does it? Really, this is probably the best possible fictional movie that could have been made of the true-life story of a epileptic girl allegedly possessed by demons (I almost want to rent THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE to see the Hollywood-schlock take on the story). As with WAVES, REQUIEM is so stylistically pared-down (no score underlining the emotions, very little music altogether, no discernible visual effects) that it sinks or swims largely on the ability of its lead actress, and Sandra Huller is more than up to the task. For example, watch the scene near the end of the film where Michaela's parents and priests start praying for her while she has a fit in the kitchen- she starts spewing obscenities and making demonic faces at them, and without an actress who projects complete conviction, the scene would be hilarious. It's to Huller's, and the film's, credit that it's anything but. Rating: 8 out of 10.

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