A very German tale of "Don't talk to strangers"
Reviewed by Juliska for The Reader at 2011-06-03 14:59:59
One reviewer criticized this film for being "too intellectual" and "too cold" when it needs to be the opposite. What that reviewer overlooks (or is naive about) is that this story is set among *Germans* in German culture. It was originally a novel written in German by a German. Unlike American culture, German culture *is* more intellectual, detached and unemotional...at least on the surface. This film captures that culture magnificently, esp. in casting then-unknown David Kross, a German, as the film's teenaged protagonist. He has more lines in the film than Fiennes & Winslet, but he's a newbie still paying his dues, so he got little credit for his wonderful portrayal of a sensitive young man who falls in love with someone whom he too late discovers is an emotional and moral neanderthal who cannot love him. She repeatedly breaks his heart, and he suffers a lifetime of pain because of it. She simply uses him for her own purposes, providing only sex in return. Today that's rightly called psychological, emotional and sexual abuse of a minor. The same previous reviewer writes: ?Oddly, issues of age rarely come into the story, where I feel like if the genders were reversed and a 15-year-old girl developed a sexual relationship with a man twice her age, audiences would talk about nothing else. Discuss the gender discrepancy amongst yourselves.? This film accurately shows the long-term damage and ambivalent and conflicted feelings of a teenager whom an adult has abused. A large part of what?s so difficult for a sexual abuse victim to recover from is that they often feel both tenderness and anger, love and hatred toward the abuser. And showing how such abuse can be just as damaging to a boy as a girl makes this film iconoclastic.