At the heart of Valeska Grisebach’s slender, yet meticulously observed slice of life portrait, Longing, is the seemingly ideal marriage of metalworker and volunteer firefighter, Markus (Andreas Müller) and his wife, Ella (Ilka Welz), a chorus singer who, in the film’s establishing sequences, casually describes their romantic union as the result, not of love at first sight, but of a friendship that evolved into a latent, but profound intimacy. Separated from each other when Markus travels with his colleagues to a firefighter’s convention, the time apart proves especially unbearable for Ella who, in his absence, begins to realize the depth of her affection for her absent husband. Similarly, their separation proves equally difficult for Markus, who, in the haze of intoxication and youthful nostalgia, succumbs to the shy attention of a charming and attractive waitress named Rose (Anett Dornbusch). However, as Markus returns home to Ella and to the familiar routine of his bucolic and uneventful life, the emotional repercussions of his brief affair with Rose proves to be an inescapable reality that he must confront to preserve the integrity of their mutual intimacy. Recalling Barbara Albert’s cinema in its episodic, extrapolative, organic narrative and the integral incorporation of zeitgeist pop songs as a generational soundtrack and tongue in cheek, short hand mode of contemporary expression that articulate the contours of interior, emotional landscapes, and infused with Michael Haneke’s familiar penchant for illustrating subtle perturbations within quotidian ritual that lead to unforeseen and irreparably transformative consequences, Longing is a distilled, yet thoughtful and sensitively rendered tale of intimacy, betrayal, and elusive nature of desire.
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