There are many filmmakers out there who are known for making
life-affirming films. Ulrich Seidl makes death-affirming films. And
this is probably the most death-affirming films I’ve ever seen.
Guys, it’s very simple… this is a MUST SEE film. If you are not seeking out the next screening or jumping on ebay this minute, then
you deserve a nice lil cock slap in the face…cause I’m telling you…this MUST be seen. Chances are you won’t love it…. I don’t.
But there are images in this film that are MIND BLOWING. A gypsy slum in the Ukraine where the images of despair and poverty
are beyond belief. A web-cam sex office, a Ukranian dance club that is 20 years behind…. amazing locations.
The film is shot by two amazing cinematographers…. Ed Lachman (Dp for Larry Clark, Todd Haynes, etc) and Wolfgang Thaler (Dog Days, Workingman’s Death).
Plot – A nurse from the Ukraine searches for a better life in the West, while an unemployed security guard from Austria heads East for
the same reason.
Now one would think that the two characters would find each other – probably in the last ten minutes and even fall in love. This never
happens, thank god. Ulrich never ever gives us the easy or expected way out.
Ulrich is obviously blurring the line between doc and narrative and it really works. And because he shot this in the Ukraine, he can get away with stuff that wouldn’t fly anywhere else. For example, he got permission to shoot in a real geriatric home and use the bed-ridden patients in scenes, probably mentally unable to be grasp what was going on, even if explained to them. I don’t know how he went about shooting these scenes, so I can not call it exploitative just yet. But what is incredible here is that the subtext of the entire film is the exploration of exploitation. In another scene, a young prostitute is demoralized by an Austrian man…. as the scene plays out, I came to realize (again, no confirmation on this) that this was a real prostitute. She performs fellatio on another actor toward the end of the scene…. so Ulrich himself is exploiting the hardships of others to make a statement about exploitation. In some ways all artists that tackle moral and social issues are guilty of this… it’s just a question of degrees.