Un Certain Regard - Struggle
- Relentless violence, pessimism and a bittersweet finale distinguish the young Austrian’s first feature. Extreme audience reaction
Cinéma verité and extreme psychological violence are the distinguishing features of Struggle, the directorial feature debut of Austria’s Ruth Mader, that screened in Un Certain Regard on 18 May.
Virtually a documentary, this almost silent film by the 29-year-old director follows the lives of a woman from Eastern European woman who entered Austria illegally with her daughter. The woman finds seasonal work in a chicken factory and strawberry picking, but is terrified the police will discover her. She ends up in a sado-masochistic relationship with a Viennese estate agent that ends in a bittersweet finale.
No detail is too much for Ruth Mader and her search for reality gives this film an uncompromising and unrelenting pessimism. Poland’s Aleksandra Justa puts in an intense performance as the woman and manages to convey the most violent of sentiments with an impassible expression on her face. The vision of the film caused mixed audience reactions.
This low-budget feature debut was produced thanks to a joint venture between Mader’s production slate, Struggle Films, and Amour Fou Produktion. Set up 18 months ago, the risk the two Austrian founders of Amour Fou took has paid dividends: four titles they produced were selected for Cannes: Struggle, two shorts and the French co-production - with Alain Guiraudie - of Pas de repos pour les braves [+see also:
film profile], screening in Directors’ Fortnight.
(Translated from French)
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