Sunday, 26 October 2014

Yesterday Girl [1966]

Alexander Kluge, one of the key members of New German Cinema, made his debut with the jazzy, freewheeling, acerbic and formally experimental film Yesterday Girl that had Nouvelle Vague written all over it. Adapted from his short story Anita G., it provided an episodic account of the tragic take of its protagonist who, upon migrating from the closed Communist space of East Germany to the flagrantly capitalist economy of West Berlin, finds it increasingly difficult to adjust to a new world that, in essence, is as impinging on her freedom to live as did her former world. Anita (played by the director’s sister Alexandra Kluge) is a derelict and a refugee who indulges in one odd job after another but rarely to any avail. Her most comfortable time turns out to be during the brief liaison she has as a mistress to a married civil servant. However, when the affair ends abruptly, she gets stuck in a labyrinthine quagmire wherein each step leads to further entanglement and downslide, and she starts indulging in petty crimes to meet ends. The poignant tale of this lost and drifting soul provided a biting satire on the presumption that the West, with its free economy and freedom of choice, is a better option by default – her messy life, glaring financial constraints, and the stifling and distrusting role of social institutions made for a blistering commentary on the afore-mentioned point of view. The dazzling B/W photography, striking usage of montages, the disjointed narrative, the deliberate digressions, and the palpably poignant, but never cloying, performance of the hapless protagonist, added up to a captivating concoction of new-age aesthetics and sharp socio-political critique reminiscent of Godard's Vivre Sa Vie.

Director: Alexander Kluge
Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama/Political Drama/Avant-Garde
Language: German
Country: Germany

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