In the trilogy’s second chapter, Jo (Jeanette Hain), a big-city police psychologist, arrives in Dreileben to aid in the ongoing investigation, whereupon she finds herself greeted cooly by the local authorities but welcomed with open arms by Vera (Susanne Wolff), a college friend who lives nearby with her husband, a pretentious author. As the girlfriends reminisce about bygone days and discover they were both once in love with the same man, director Dominik Graf deftly juxtaposes their personal drama against the search for a killer, a police corruption scandal, and a possible case of interspecies transmutation—all underlining the trilogy’s recurring themes of false appearances and deeply hidden truths.
Three of the brightest talents at work in contemporary German cinema, Christian Petzold, Dominik Graf and Christoph Hochhäusler have each made a feature-length film on the same general subject—the escape of a convicted criminal in a small central German town—but told from completely different points of view and in radically contrasting filmmaking styles: one as an offbeat youth romance, one as a Big Chill-style relationship drama, and one as a tense police procedural. Taken together, these compulsively watchable films make for generous entertainment and a fascinating exercise in the polymorphous possibilities of storytelling. (-filmlinc.com)
A trio of interlocking films rather than a standard trilogy or omnibus, Dreileben is an invigorating experiment in narrative construction by three of Germany’s leading filmmakers. Christian Petzold, Dominik Graf and Christoph Hochhäusler began an impassioned e-mail exchange prompted by the German film magazine Revolver. That conversation — on the implications of film style and genre, aesthetic possibility and the so-called Berlin School, a loose movement of contemporary German auteurs — led to the creation of one the most exciting collaborative film projects in recent times, in which attentive viewing yields surprising pleasures and chills aplenty.
The premise of Dreileben (literally “three lives”) stems from an incident in which a convicted murderer and sex offender escaped from a hospital, setting off a manhunt. Each director chose a different angle from which to tell the story, and did so in their respective signature style. The result is an idiosyncratic yet modestly masterful cubist puzzle in which points of view continuously shift focus, and a transmuted storyline engages the audience’s imagination and sense of visual recall. The films cumulatively reveal parallel worlds, moving from Petzold’s cool, Hitchcockian romantic thriller (Beats Being Dead); to Graf’s novelistic criminal investigation (Don’t Follow Me Around); to Hochhäusler’s dual psychological character study that veers toward a Thuringian fairytale. A feverish tension builds over the five-hour whole as characters intersect and suspicions are overturned.
Although made by filmmaker/critics, Dreileben checks its theory at the door to give us the year’s most refreshing, playful and clever instances of inter-narrative filmmaking. (-tiff.net)