Therapy through absence in Everyday Objects
by Domenico La Porta
11/02/2013 - Some people might be wary of a first film presented by its director as “a thriller about uneventful days”, yet Everyday Objects [festival scope] (Halbschatten) by German director Nicolas Wackerbarth deserves its selection in the Forum section of this 63rd Berlinale. It is a small, well-mastered movie on the problems faced by the modern couple, seen through the relationship of a young woman, not with the other person, but with the things and people that are related to him.
Merle (Anne Ratte-Poll) accepts her lover’s invitation to come to his villa on the Côte d’Azur, but when she arrives, she finds a house that has been deserted by its owner. He has left in a hurry for professional reasons, without bothering to let her know. The young German woman quickly makes herself comfortable in this privileged location, until the arrival of Emma and Felix, her host’s children, who make her feel like an intruder. Little by little, Merle defines her relationship with these two adolescents and, as she becomes closer to them, she gradually distances herself from her absent host. Until he comes back...
Merle is a modern woman, off-beat and selfish. The character is admirably played by Anne Ratte-Poll who, beneath a fake Jodie Foster look, enriches the movie with her complex personality. In her thirties, she tries to find time for herself, even if it means escaping from one retreat to another. It is mostly with people that Merle has an issue. Getting close to them is a real effort, maybe also because she has not yet found her own place in life. With this film, Wackerbarth points to a paradox that concerns many people. Just like Merle, most of our lives take place within ourselves, without any real possibility of communicating or sharing with other people. And yet we spend all or most of our energy trying to get closer to others, who also live behind emotional and physical barriers (the director films all sorts of walls, ramparts, fences and guard dogs).
(Translated from French)