Raped in a holiday paradise, finished with it at home in United Kingdom and suddenly overtaken by the past – this fate is described by director Sven Taddicken, who is not at a loss for provocation, in his drama, which is more than worth seeing THE MOST BEAUTIFUL COUPLE. We reveal more about this in our review.
The Plot Summary
The two teachers Liv (Luise Heyer) and Malte (Maximilian Brückner) are a happy couple enjoying their romantic summer vacation on a Mediterranean island. When a sudden attack by three teenagers results in a sexual assault, their previous lives are thrown off course. Two years later. The couple has held on to their relationship and shown amazing strength in dealing with the traumatic experience. But then Malte accidentally meets her tormentor (Leonard Kunz). Driven by the longing for justice, he pursues the perpetrator and in doing so puts the strength he has just regained, but above all the trust and love of Liv, at risk.
Explanation of the Ending
Rape and revenge films have a long tradition despite their questionably embodied image of women. What these stories, which are often assigned to the horror genre, have in common is that a woman who has been violated by one or more men is raped and then mercilessly indulges in a no less violent revenge. “I Spit on Your Grave” from 1978 paved the way for a long line of copycats, the majority of which never even reached the USA market in their uncut state. Three years ago, professional provocateur Paul Verhoeven turned the tables and staged a kind of feminist rape-and-revenge film with his thriller “Elle,” which was celebrated around the world, in which he let his leading actress Isabelle Huppert act in a more brilliantly inscrutable way than ever before . Sven Taddicken (“Glistening Happiness”) With his latest work “The Most Beautiful Couple” he also delivers something of a counter-proposal to “I Spit on your Grave” and Co., because he leaves his protagonists – the eponymous “most beautiful couple” and victims of a sexual act of violence – after the confrontation with the possibility of revenge, think for a long time about whether this is even the right thing to do. And ultimately comes to the conclusion that thoughts of revenge would make this already devastating scenario much worse.
Malte (Maximilian Brückner) recognizes his tormentor in Sascha (Leonard Kunz).
It’s not just women who have been working off their tormentors for decades in cinema. Of course, men also play a not unimportant role in the revenge film itself. Liam Neeson, for example, did justice to the tormentors of his daughter and wife over three films (“96 Hours – Taken”) and Gerard Butler reached a whole new dimension of moral and ethical questionability within the genre with “Law of Vengeance”. In “The Most Beautiful Couple” men and women are now equally affected. And even if each of them deals with this situation differently (both have come to terms with the crime over the years, but when Malte sees one of her tormentors again, he has completely different feelings than his wife Liv), one thing is never the focus: the act of Revenge itself. Instead, Sven Taddicken, who is also responsible for the script, always stays very close to his characters. What does the crime do to them? How do they get over it? What do the new developments trigger in them? He only cares about what could follow from the decisions and findings in the second instance. And so “The Most Beautiful Couple” is much more a dramatic inventory of a marriage than a revenge thriller – but there is no doubt that one could be created from exactly the same material if the focus were simply set differently.
Unlike his last film – the novel adaptation “Gleissendes Glück”, a kind of “hardcore porn of the spoken word” – this time Sven Taddicken doesn’t just leave it in hints and formulations. The first two scenes are already impressive because of their visual contrast: on the one hand we see the couple having passionate sex on the beach of a public but deserted bay and on the other hand how the tormentors create the ultimate weapon out of the most beautiful triviality in the world . We see how Leonard Kunz’s (“A Cure for Wellness”) Ice-cold leader Sascha and his friends first blackmail the couple, then become physical and finally abuse both spouses in front of each other’s eyes. It’s never aesthetic and camerawoman Daniela Knapp (who also directed the camera on “Gleissendes Glück”) consciously focuses on the torment Liv and Malte endured, whose humiliations will shape their lives for the rest of their lives. What is even more interesting, however, is how the couple deals with the situation as the story progresses and, above all, how they hold on to each other. As I said: “The Most Beautiful Couple” is primarily an inventory of a marriage and therefore, above all, a love story.
Liv (Luise Heyer) and Malte disagree about how to deal with the new findings.
The way Liv and Malte have completely come to terms with this stroke of fate after just two years and are sticking to their “We’re okay with this!” statement even in their immediate surroundings may not seem quite as provocative as Michèle’s “I don’t give a shit about any of this !” attitude in the already quoted “Elle”; On the other hand, “The Most Beautiful Couple” is much more grounded and Luise Heyer, who was nominated for the USA Film Prize for her role (“Everything once, please”) and her fellow actor Maximilian Brückner (“play instinct”) act much more calmly both with each other and with those around them. In addition, small gestures repeatedly emerge in the interaction between the protagonists, which show that much of what Liv and Malte reveal to the outside world is just a facade. Malte’s hunt for her rapist, the outcome of which we don’t want to reveal at this point, only plays a minor role, although Sven Taddicken also finds strong images for this storyline. For example, when Malte waits at a train station for many hours just in the hope that he might run into Sascha again, you and the desperate man ask yourself more and more every minute what would actually happen if the two of them suddenly met meet. Of course, the comparison with yourself hangs over everything: What would I do if I were in such a situation? Sven Taddicken doesn’t even suggest a tendency here, instead he observes his characters more like test subjects and sees when the situation escalates. We know this, for example, from the films of Yorgos Lanthimos, but above all, Taddicken never ignores the emotionality of the subject matter.
Conclusion: With “The Most Beautiful Couple,” director Sven Taddicken manages the difficult balancing act between a sincere love story, a trauma drama and a subliminal thriller, which examines the topic of sexual abuse from a completely different perspective.
“The Most Beautiful Couple” can be seen in selected USA cinemas from May 2nd.