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April 26, 2010 | by  | in Film |
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Everyone Else

Breaking up is hard to do, and German director Maren Ade seems to know this all too well. She knows this so well that her latest film, Everyone Else, could almost have been the product of a 48-hour Neil Sedaka binge. Over the course of two hours, Everyone Else subjects us to a highly personal, highly protracted break-up between young architect Chris (Lars Eidinger) and record label PR girl Gitte (Birgit Minichmayr). It’s painful viewing, to say the least. Ade’s direction and characterisation is intimate and emotionally charged, and as the relationship unravels under the sheer incompatibility of the partners, it’s hard not to find yourself cringing at events. But then, that’s kind of the point.

Everyone Else’s biggest strength is in its performances. As Chris, Eidinger is the kind of seething milquetoast who gets irritable if you’re around him for a second longer than he wants you to be, and he feels unsuited to any kind of friendly demeanour—which is good, as he spends the majority of the film moping around and lamenting his unrecognised genius. As his lover, Minichmayr is intolerably overbearing and stifling with Chris and seemingly perfect with everyone else, a duplicitous mess who doesn’t want to conform but desperately wants to be liked. They’re perfect in the roles, but you don’t like spending time in their company. There’s no possible world in which these people would be likeable, especially when juxtaposed against Hans and Sana, a pleasant middle-aged couple Chris snidely refers to as “boors”. They’re content in their life, doing what they want and genuinely enjoying the company of others; in comparison to the people we’re following, they’re goddamn saints.

Ade certainly knows her way around self-destructing relationships, with every single crack and leak documented in agonising detail. However, Chris and Gitte are such unpleasant people that it’s hard to justify staying with such a gruelling film. The pair are completely mismatched and yet made for each other in all their moody, volatile, passive-aggressive glory, and it’s their inherent flaws, grating against each other, that make them so hard to watch. As Thom Yorke once sung, they do it to themselves, they do, and that’s what really hurts. Everyone Else is a film that does what it sets out to do well—but it’s not a goal I have much time or patience for.

Directed by: Maren Ade

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