Thursday, 13 August 2009

Schussangst (2003) aka Gun-shy

Rating: 6.8/10
Runtime: 101 min
Language: German (English & Spanish softsubs)
Country: Germany
Color: Color
IMDb Link:

Director: Dito Tsintsadze
Fabian Hinrichs ... Lukas Eiserbeck
Lavinia Wilson ... Isabella
Johan Leysen ... Romberg, Isabella's stepfather
Ingeborg Westphal ... Sieveking
Rudolf W. Marnitz ... Beckmann
Thorsten Merten ... Krausser
Axel Prahl ... 'Dead Man' in the river
Christoph Waltz ... Johannsen
Lena Stolze ... Isabella's mother
Lasha Bakradze ... The Albanian
Dirk Kurbjuweit ... Man with newspaper

Description: The German title translates to "Fear of Shooting" rather than "Gun Shy".

"Foreign language films face the difficult task of entertaining in a substantial enough way so you forget about the subtitles before you. Gun-shy, an interesting German film does just that. A young man has a note dropped in his lap by an attractive female as he is riding the bus. The note reads 'help me' and with this action our attention is set on finding out what it is all about.

Lukas (Fabian Hinrichs) works for social services playing the role of meals on wheels for those who need assistance. The people he delivers food to seem to be his only contact with others until he meets Isabella (Lavinia Wilson). Isabella is the attractive, mysterious woman who gives him the note asking for help. They de-board the bus and before you know it they are talking about sex and she is staying the night at his place. The time they spend together as the film goes on has Isabella stringing Lukas along on a tight leash as he becomes more taken by her. Learning that she is skilled in the martial arts makes us wonder even more so why she needs help and what from.

Director Dito Tsintsadze does a solid job in directing a taut film with an intriguing script written by Dirk Kurbjuweit [author of the 1998 novel]. Together they have created a movie where the information omitted adds to the mystery of what is unfolding before us. We never really learn why the characters are ultimately the way they are, but some hints are given throughout that help provide a sketch. It is obvious why Lukas would want to help Isabella because not only is she good-looking, but he is also looking to fill a void of loneliness that encircles him.

The film uses humor to lessen some of its weightiness, such as the scenes with Lukas’ weird neighbor who is enamored with North Korea. The one place that the story fails though is in establishing motivation for what takes place in the end scene, unless it is meant to be attributed to emotional instability.

The acting performances by the leads are strong. Hinrichs creates an image of a misguided loner in Lukas. Perhaps Lukas is too easily influenced and that is why he falls into the dangerous trap of wanting Isabella, who herself is unstable. Wilson as Isabella portrays the master manipulator by being withholding and icy, while providing just enough interest in Lukas to do her bidding.

There is an underlying theme of addressing fears that runs throughout the course of the movie, deconstructing or understanding them so we can let go. This ties in well with the foreign film genre too. Don’t fear the subtitles, but embrace the opportunity to see movies told through a different perspective. If you do you might experience something like Gun-shy that is full of intrigue not only in what it presents, but what it leaves out for our imaginations to translate."

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