email print share on facebook share on twitter share on google+

LOCARNO 2018 Competition

Review: Glaubenberg


- LOCARNO 2018: Swiss director Thomas Imbach presents his latest feature film in international competition at the Locarno Film Festival

Review: Glaubenberg
Zsofia Körös in Glaubenberg

Following the acclaimed Mary, Queen of Scots [+see also:
film review
festival scope
film profile
 (2013), Thomas Imbach returns to Locarno to present his new and very personal film, Glaubenberg [+see also:
film profile
. Produced by Okofilm – which has produced nearly all of his films to date and was founded in 2008 with director Andrea Staka – Glaubenberg sets the scene for a modern tragedy that glides with a certain – yet occasionally disconcerting – ease between reality and fiction.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

"Based on a true story, inspired by a myth," is what Imbach tells us at the beginning of the film, as if to underline his intimate bond with the theme, that of the suggestion of incest between a sister and her brother, which has affected him personally. We don't know much about the director's own experiences and it’s probably better that way. What is certain however, is that Glaubenberg is one of those personal films in which each image and frame bears the mark of its director. With his latest work, the Swiss director chooses not to tackle the theme head on, instead, he chooses to investigate the obsessive side, the frustration felt in not being able to satisfy a drive that is forced to remain in one’s imagination.

Glaubergerg stars Lena (new actress Zsofia Körös), a modern heroine ready to do anything to win over the love of her life. The problem lies in the fact that the 'love of her life' is her brother, Noah. Noah is everything to her: a brother, a friend and in her own oneiric universe, her lover. She is gripped by a real obsession. Noah is a powerful drug that drives her further away from a world she knows would judge her severely. The reality that surrounds her slowly but inexorably transforms her, pushing her further and further into madness. When Lena decides to openly confess her love to her brother, the rejection is palpable and drives her to find refuge in an unknown world of daydreams and disquieting illusions-allusions. 

The juxtaposition between reality and onirism, the lawful and the illicit, dominates Imbach's entire film. An intentional ambiguity that destabilises and intrigues. Is reality one and the same or is it shaped by our minds, where madness lurks? Are memories not an emblematic example of our personal interpretation of "reality"? 

Glaubenberg, a place in the Swiss mountains that is at times paradisiacal, summarises the beauty and perfection of a childhood spent with Noah through Lena's eyes. Her memories are clear and idyllic but only correspond to her brother's. Small but significant differences push the viewer to beg the question: who should we believe? Mythology rightly lurks here, in doubt, in the almost imperceptible cracks that slowly begin to appear in Lena’s world. In order to fully enjoy Imbach's latest film, viewers must play the game and allow themselves to be engrossed in a drama that glides with a certain brutality into a pure dream.

Imbach's camera allows viewers to almost physically feel Lena's obsession thanks to close ups on her face, which occasionally transforms into a mask. The tension between desire and folly is palpable in the numerous scenes in which the brother and sister touch each other, creating a choreography with dangerous implications. Imbach has no intention of judging Lena's choices, instead, he wants to show her blind determination, despite the judgment of others, and in spite of everything.

Glaubenberg was produced by Okofilm Productions with the support of Schweizer radio und Fernsehen and SRG SSR. International rights also belong to Okofilm.

(Translated from Italian)

Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.