Ahorn | Friday April 21st, 2017
RAKETE PERELMAN the title of Oliver Aluukas’ debut feature film, takes its name from a fictional artist collective out in the countryside of Brandenburg.
We meet them through the character of Jen, a young rebellious woman who, fed up with the bitchy attitude of her job in the fashion industry, sets fire to this year’s collection and sets out to escape into the safety of a free spirited artistic community. Or so she thinks.
Arriving in the midst of a crisis, the group is having to come to terms with the fact that living off the grid is not as easy as it sounds. They need to come up with a sizable amount of cash in order to hold on to their living and working space on state owned land. Their one source of income is a contract to perform at an upcoming community fair and feeling themselves under pressure, they decide to scrap their production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in favor of something logistically simpler to produce, Ibsen’s “Hedda Gabler”. Logically, their first choice would have been way more appropriate for an outdoor fête but for the purposes of the movie, Ibsen’s collision of doomed relationships provides a more metaphoric vehicle.
We see life in the commune as a series of vignettes of work and play, fun and conflict, as people pair off, listen to music, go swimming, get drunk, take acid, argue over food, get mad at their kids, have lovers quarrels, try (and fail) to have meaningful discussions, and, of course, rehearse the play. Situations and background stories tend to come and go without any real introduction or resolution, and as one might expect, the mounting tensions explode during the performance of the play.
The film means well but didn’t really come together for me. It was either too little development to do justice to the characters or too many little plots to function with the slice of life style of the movie. It seemed more like a sort of sketch book of ideas. That being said, I thought Liv Lisa Fries as Jen was a good focal point for the movie and I was surprised how much bigger she appeared on the screen than she seemed when she came up on stage at the end – clearly a strong on-camera presence.
Utopia always looks great but historically never quite works and in that sense the film certainly makes it’s point. This group of people who have all come together “to do what they want, the way they want it” finds that they might not be capable of doing either. As Tobias, the director of the play, tells his actors struggling with the conflicting logic of a scene, “We’re all afraid. We say one thing but we do something else.”
Andrew Horn, Berlin-based filmmaker (The Nomi Song, We Are Twisted Fucking Sister!, The Big Blue), producer (East Side Story) and writer, is on the look out for interesting – and not so interesting – movies at this year’s edition of Achtung Berlin – new berlin film award.
Films from past editions of the festival can be found in the Achtung Berlin channel on realeyz.de