Review: Someday We’ll Tell Each Other Everything
- BERLINALE 2023: Emily Atef crafts a sappy coming-of-age melodrama based on Daniela Krien’s novel of the same name
It’s the summer of 1990, and Germany has finally reunited. This is the setting for Emily Atef’s latest endeavour, Someday We’ll Tell Each Other Everything [+see also:
interview: Emily Atef
film profile], world-premiered in the main competition of this year’s Berlinale and based on Daniela Krien’s novel of the same name. The action takes place in a small village bordering the former two Germanies, where 19-year-old Maria (Marlene Burow, who recently appeared in another East German-set coming-of-age tale, Aelrun Goette’s forgettable In a Land That No Longer Exists [+see also:
film profile]) already lives with her kind-hearted boyfriend Johannes (Cedric Eich) and his large, caring family. They both live in the attic, and he dreams of becoming a photographer. Maria has dropped out of school, wanders around, reads Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov and seems undecided about what to do next. During one of her wanderings, she meets Henner (Felix Kramer), a 40-year-old farmer living next door. The man stops his two dogs from attacking her, and there is a first encounter between the two, which seems to both frighten and intrigue Maria.
In a very surreal – and far from being sensual or intriguing – scene, we see Maria and her mother, Hannah (Dark star Jördis Triebel), involved in a car accident. The car, driven by Hannah, flips upside down and rolls off the tarmac. Strangely enough, the vehicle remains intact and ends up in its starting position, and the two women are unharmed. Henner witnesses the accident and helps them to move the car back onto the road. Hannah and Maria remain silent all this time – after the crash, nobody screams or asks, “How are you?” Then, Hannah turns on the engine, opens the boot and leaves Maria there with her suitcase. Maria silently follows Henner into his shabby house, where, after about ten minutes of winks, gestures, breathing and looks, they engage in their first act of sexual intercourse.
We will witness many more of their sexual interactions, and in all of them, the camera delights in exploring their bodies in minute detail. In these and other moments outside of the bed, Henner often shows his worst side. Nevertheless, Maria keeps on lying to everyone, hiding her secrets fairly clumsily, only to show some feeble regrets after 90 minutes or so. The picture sports a number of cheesy dialogues (“Now I’ve caught you and dragged you into my cave,” says Henner during their second encounter), slow pacing, a rather over-explanatory approach when dealing with the period it covers (we will see different family members sitting around the table and discussing business challenges, the new, unified currency and the economic crisis caused by the East-West divide), many relatives whose presence does not add anything to the development of the plot (such as the lost son who fled to the West, and returns home with his wife and kids) and a communist Pioneers childhood song performed by Maria out of the blue, among other things. Unfortunately, here, Burow proves to be an uncharismatic lead, as she lacks the expressiveness her role requires, especially in the most turbulent sequences. In fairness, however, the rest of the cast does not excel either.
Above all, we struggle to understand what really connects Maria and Henner. Yes, they like each other and they’re constantly aroused. Yes, they share a common, loose interest in literature. But that’s all, and their underwritten bond is another element that makes Atef’s tale far from credible.
There’s not much of a moral to be gleaned here, except that a girl of Maria’s age will certainly go through pain and sorrow by loving – or even just desiring – a self-destructive, violent man with whom she shares very little, if anything at all.
Someday We’ll Tell Each Other Everything was produced by Germany’s Rohfilm, MDR Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk, ARTE, SWR – Südwestrundfunk and Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg - RBB. The Match Factory is handling its international sales.
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