May 7, 2007
SFIFF Dispatch. 6.Craig Phillips on Emma's Bliss (Emmas Glück), a German entry at the San Francisco International Film Festival. In Sven Taddicken's adaptation of a very popular novel (in Europe, that is), Jordis Triebel plays Emma, an odd, sweet loner who loves her pigs - even to death (sensitive vegetarians may want to avert their eyes a couple of times) - while running what's left of her debt-ridden family farm. Lonely and horny - she uses a moped as a vibrator - it seems like a dream come true when car salesman Max (Jürgen Vogel) crashes a Jaguar onto her property, along with a cache of cash. He's stolen both after finding out he has incurable cancer, planning to flee to Mexico for his dying days. And if this premise sounds like the recipe for an awfully maudlin night at the movies (perhaps unfair, but the American version would probably star Kate Hudson and one of the Wilson brothers and dissolve into excruciating), rest assured Taddicken strikes just the right tone, remaining firmly down to earth throughout. It never overdoses on whimsy and leads to an ending that is inevitable but all the more touching for it. It may have just been the print I saw, but some of the dark scenes are literally too darkly lit to see anything, but overall Daniela Knapp's widescreen cinematography is nicely warm, bucolic but never overly lush. Triebel (more known in Germany for her stage work) and Vogel are both so natural and empathetic together that the love story at the heart of this, especially as he grows sicker, is hard to shake off. A local cop played by Hinnerk Schönemann, who yearns for Emma, could also have been a caricature but is instead empathetically drawn, while Max's shady boss (Martin Feifel) surprises, too. While the film is occasionally tough-going (it doesn't shy away from the cancer, for one thing), and doesn't quite have the makings of a classic, it's a beautifully done little film celebrating life - and honoring death - more fittingly than about any film I've seen in awhile.
Posted by dwhudson at May 7, 2007 2:42 AM