Germany. A Winter’s Tale Movie Review (In Detail)

Spoilers Alert:

How do you film the violent acts of an unscrupulous terrorist cell? And then from the perspective of the perpetrators? Director Jan Bonny makes his radical drama Germany. A Winter’s Tale (de. Wintermärchen) is the only right thing and shows the main characters, who are based on the members of the NSU, as perverted, disheveled scumbags without a conscience and deliberately avoids providing answers. We reveal more about this in our review.

The Plot Summary

“It has to be a blast again!” say Becky (Ricarda Seifried) and Tommi (Thomas Schubert), whose relationship is dominated by corrosive boredom, frustration and dependency. Her cosmos in the dingy apartment is tiny, her plans are big. Together they want to murder foreigners as a terrorist cell and generate nationwide attention! Suddenly Maik (Jean-Luc Bubert) is in the kitchen and the passive duo turns into an explosive threesome. But their supposed values ​​such as honor, pride and loyalty are increasingly becoming disorientated and their radicalism goes beyond all limits.

Germany. A Winter’s Tale Movie explanation of the ending

Between 2000 and 2007, the neo-Nazi organization National Socialist Underground – NSU for short – committed ten murders, 43 attempted murders, three explosive attacks and 15 robberies across United Kingdom. The terrorist cell founded by Uwe Mundlos, Uwe Böhnhardt and Beate Zschäpe is said to have had between 100 and 200 followers. It is not known how many crimes they committed that have not yet been linked to the NSU. Mundlos and Böhnhardt committed suicide in November 2011, Beate Zschäpe was arrested as an accomplice and sentenced to life imprisonment in a sensational trial. Fatih Akin was the first to take on the topic and staged “Out of Nothing,” a very loosely based but highly fictionalized revenge drama based on the NSU murders, which even won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film in 2017. In it, Akin follows a mother, furiously portrayed by Diane Kruger, who loses her husband and son in a bomb attack. A text panel at the end of the film reveals the inspiration for the story, although the film, which is divided into three clearly separated sections, takes all the liberties it takes, especially in the last one, to make a plea against human hatred. Director Jan Bonny (“Opposite”) With his second feature film, “Winter’s Tale,” he is now sticking a little closer to the traditional facts of the unscrupulous community of convenience of the three NSU founders, but this does not mean that their motivation can be understood at the end of the 125th film, which is disgusting in the best sense of the word Minutes could somehow understand.

Becky (Ricarda Seifried) and Tommi (Thomas Schubert) try their hand at shooting.

You’re not supposed to understand anything in “Winter’s Tale” anyway, and ultimately you’re not even supposed to understand it. Jan Bonny, who is also responsible for the script together with short film author Jan Eichberg, throws the viewer right into the dysfunctional relationship of Becky and Tommi, whose day consists solely of having monotonous sex, drinking or each other to be insulted because either the sex isn’t working or the booze isn’t hitting hard enough. Every now and then they drive through the streets of their city to imagine what it would be like if a passer-by were randomly beaten up, stabbed or chased to death; preferably a foreigner, even if it’s never really clear why. But that’s exactly the point: “Winter’s Tale” doesn’t provide any answers. This also means that Bonny lets the events speak for themselves. Becky and Tommi are given no narrative background that explains family circumstances in more detail or would somehow explain why the two of them have reached the very bottom of the social food chain. Jobs, friends, leisure activities – none of that exists in their lives. Instead, their everyday lives focus entirely on each other, even though no one feels love or passion for the other anymore.

Jan Bonny takes full advantage of this noticeable disgust with one another. It’s not just Becky and Tommi who visibly feel disgust and dislike for each other, bark at each other at every opportunity and use each other’s bodies exclusively to satisfy their own needs, but not those of their partner. Ricarda Seifried (“The Horror”)Thomas Schubert (“Wild Mouse”) and later also Jean-Luc Bubert (“LenaLove”) one can only be congratulated on such a radical, fearless performance. This atmosphere of disgust is also transmitted to the viewer, for whom there is hardly an emotional anchor point during the two hours of the film that could somehow sustain interest in the two characters. You don’t really want to spend any time with Becky and Tommi. At the same time, this feeling could hardly capture the core of “Winter’s Tale” better. Jan Bonny does not dissect the emergence of a terrorist cell out of supposed moral superiority or stupid ideological thinking, but rather makes it the result of boredom and dark impulses. However, this also means that the film’s processes sometimes become monotonous: sex, frustration, violence – there is simply nothing else in “Winter’s Tale”. And even if the monotony on which the violent fantasies were first able to develop is particularly highlighted, the 124 minutes of the film become a test of patience.

The trio is extremely brutal in their actions.

With Maik’s appearance, structure finally comes into this previously diffuse accumulation of anger and hatred towards himself and the system – the fantasies become a plan. How the community of two becomes a community of three and how the power structure shifts again and again within this one-woman-two-man constellation is the most ambitious and strongest part in terms of narrative. Sometimes you can no longer understand who feels sexually attracted to whom (and why anyway). But it is precisely at this point that chaos breaks out again, because the positions of power in the bedroom can always be directly transferred to the escalations of violence. Regardless of whether the trio robs a supermarket or breaks into an office: Jan Bonny stages the subsequent headshots and fights in a radical and anything but over-stylized manner. Several times he uses particularly drastic shots to force the viewer to look at the violence in its ugly face. Just like sex, which he shows here so freely and visually, but also so repulsively that in the end you don’t even have the opportunity to take a quick breath. Especially in the last 20 minutes, “Winter’s Tale” becomes a test of patience. Not through what Jan Bonny shows here, but through what the images imply. If we were all as instinct-driven as these people here, then there would only be murder and manslaughter in the world.

Conclusion: No description could fit “Germany. A Winter’s Tale” better than “radical” – but director Jan Bonny goes far beyond the limits of pain to create this “in your face” feeling. It really hurts and is sometimes almost unbearable. But there is hardly any other way to explain the senseless actions of the NSU – even in a fictionalized form.

Germany. A Winter’s Tale can be seen in selected USA cinemas from March 21st.

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