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BERLINALE 2024 Panorama

Review: Every You Every Me


- BERLINALE 2024: Between realism and dream-state, Michael Fetter Nathansky depicts the complex relationship between a woman and her partner whom she can no longer stand but doesn’t dare leave

Review: Every You Every Me
Aenne Schwarz and Carlo Ljubek in Every You Every Me

The tone is set for Every You Every Me [+see also:
interview: Michael Fetter Nathansky
film profile
by young German director Michael Fetter Nathansky, which was presented in the 74th Berlinale’s Panorama section, as of the film’s opening scenes. Without prior warning, it’s into the mind of protagonist Nadine (Aenne Schwarz) that the film thrusts us, opening a window onto the complicated relationship binding her to her partner Paul (Carlo Ljubek), who finds himself gripped by a panic attack right in the middle of a job interview. They need her help to convince him to leave the room in which he has barricaded himself. When she manages to access his refuge, it’s not Paul but a gentle, placid cow that she finds and which she sets about stroking with affection. At this point, we might wonder whether Paul is perhaps a vet or a farmer? But it’s only when Nadine moves away from the cow to console a child curled up in a corner that we realise the absurdity of the situation. What we’re seeing isn’t, in fact, Paul, but the physical materialisation of Nadine’s feelings towards him.

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The story told in the film through moments of family life, flashbacks and trade union demands, is that of a thirty-year-old who is slowly but surely falling out of love with her partner. As suggested by the flashbacks where the protagonist takes the form of a young and dynamic boy (Youness Aabbaz), Nadine and Paul met in the coal plant where they both worked. Surly and solitary, she had only just left her birth city with her still small little girl. What’s striking about these past moments is that even though Paul is depicted as he was as a boy, an identity which also seeps into the present-day story, Nadine always stays the same, as if the only person to change were always only him, or rather the various representations his partner has of him. Overall, other than his “real” appearance, Paul assumes the form of a cow, a child, a young boy and an elderly lady, and Nadine can no longer reconcile his many identities.

This aesthetically fascinating film was born out of the director’s desire to depict the decline of a romantic relationship and the triumph of reality over dreams, but it seems, at times, to lose its force, descending into pure theorisation. In fact, it sometimes proves difficult to really get inside Nadine’s mind and understand what caused her to reject Paul and who the latter really is. Despite the different physical forms that he assumes, ultimately his true nature remains a mystery.

Nadine’s seeming lack of empathy does, however, prove interesting, in that it distances her from the stereotypical image of the devoted woman/mother who subscribes to the sacrifice promoted by patriarchal society. That said, the factors motivating her to provoke her partner and continually put him to the test, rather than leave him, remain somewhat mysterious, as if everything within her had fossilised. The reasons driving Paul to stay with someone who openly admits to longer loving him are equally elusive. Both of them victims of their own personal representations of their relationship, the film’s protagonists remain trapped in a spiderweb of things left unsaid, anxieties and repressed desires, which stop this interesting and formally sophisticated film from really taking off.

Every You Every Me is produced by Contando Films, Studio Zentral and Network Movie Film – und Fernsehproduktion in co-production with ZDF – Das kleines Fernsehspiel and Nephilim Producciones. Be for Films are managing international sales.

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(Translated from Italian)

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