Thursday, 22 October 2009
German filmmaker Christian Petzold’s Jerichow is a modern-day variation of James M. Cain’s classic pulp fiction The Postman Always Rings Twice, albeit minus the hardboiled content that gave the source material its iconic status. The movie is about a penniless, laconic war veteran who, through a string of coincidences, gets employed by a reasonably wealthy middle-aged Turkish man (performed with great effectiveness by Hilmi Sozer) married to a bored, philandering, blonde adulteress screaming to get laid. The movie has been pictured without the kind of stylizations or disorienting camera angles that defined film noirs; rather, it is grim in tone and filled with dramatic realism and socio-political insights that belie the genre’s archetypal conventions. Further, even in the movie’s fatalist climax, there is more an element of absurdism than the kind of bleak nihilism that typified classic noirs. The movie is certainly not without its flaws – some of the plot contrivances seem too obvious, and the drifter’s character has not been as well delineated as the other two protagonists, for instance. However, having said that, this deceptively simple fable and revisionist neo-noir does deserve to be paid attention to.
Director: Christian Petzold