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Monday, November 12, 2007

The Edukators

****½ The Edukators (aka Die Fetten Jahre Sind Vorbei). Drama.

Directed by: Hans Weingartner.

Starring: Daniel Brühl, Julia Jentsch, Stipe Erceg, Burghart Klaußner

We got this from Netflix on Dagny's recommendation.

Peter (Stipe Erceg) and Jan (Daniel Brühl) are friends with a mission: they break into the homes of the ridiculously wealthy, not to steal, but to rearrange the furniture and leave a message saying "your days of plenty are numbered,"
(die fetten Jahre sind vorbei) signed "The Edukators."

Peter's girlfriend Jule (Julia Jentsch) has her own reasons for being angry with the ridiculously wealthy: she's perpetually broke, slowly paying a man named Hardenberg (Burghart Klaußner) the cost of a high-end Mercedes from an accident when she didn't have insurance. At her low-wage job, it'll be years before she pays it off.

When Peter's out of town, she and Jan spend time together, getting closer, and Jan tells her about The Edukators. Jule convinces Jan that her nemesis is the perfect subject for the scheme. However, while they're rearranging his house, Hardenberg returns home, catches them, and recognizes Jule.

Panicking, they take him hostage, and then call Peter to come rescue them, and they all end up in a secluded cabin in the mountains while they think about their options.

I wasn't sure I was going to like this movie that seemed to promise to be a sociopolitical drama, but after the first 20 minutes or so, I was hooked. It did make me think--a lot--about social problems, but it was the characters that grabbed me.

The young trio were very realistically frustrated, both with the injustices they saw and with their inability to effect change. And yet, they're just playing at being revolutionaries--their big statements are a cross between a prank and performance art. The romantic triangle was also very well done, and played into their motivations--specifically, the different relationships between Jan and Jule and Peter and Jule, and between Jan and Peter were distinct and the events in the film changed those relationships.

Hardenberg was even more thought-provoking, as he reveals his history as a 60s radical himself, and his journey into becoming one of the ultra-rich.

Probably not coincidentally, it was also around the 20-minute mark that I started ignoring the subtitles and just listening to the dialogue in German. There's a huge difference for me in being able to understand a movie when it's originally in German as opposed to being dubbed. Lots more syllables in German than in English, so the actors in dubbed movies talk really fast--not so good for the less-than-fluent.


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