Middle-aged lawyer Thomas assists Leyla, an attractive blonde, when she drops her things at the pool. After their paths keep crossing, he picks up the courage to ask her out for a date. Somewhat to his surprise she agrees, but arrives late, just as the restaurant is closing. They go back to his apartment for an impromptu pizza and, after a few drinks, she falls asleep on the couch.
The next morning Thomas awakes to find Leyla and his laptop, which contains vital case files, missing…
An expertly constructed thriller in the tradition of Hitchcock and Chabrol, writer/director Christian Petzold’s Something To Remind Me keeps the viewer enthralled throughout.
Utilising a deliberately cold and clinical mise-en-scene and drawing subtle, finely nuanced performances from Nina Hoss and Andre Hennicke in the Novak and Stewart roles, Petzold manipulates us as skilfully as Leyla does Thomas. He knows exactly when to deploy each signifier, be it the leitmotif of Burt Bacharach’s What The World Needs Now Is Love or – a rather more German specific reference unfortunately – Wolfgang Kautner’s Under The Bridges, and the precise moment and way to reveal each new piece of the puzzle.
Take this sequence midway through: Leyla and one of Thomas’s cases, Blum, have, obviously not coincidentally, taken up work at the same factory. From Leyla’s apparent point of view, we observe Thomas and Blum talking. Then Petzold cuts to a reverse angle of Leyla, seen from behind the two men, with an extremely startled look on her face. In an instant Petzold establishes one set of audience expectations, confounds them and puts the film on a different track. From Vertigo to Que La Bête Meure in a matter of seconds…
Remarkably assured for a second feature that originated as a TV movie, Something To Remind Me marks Petzold as a name to watch.