"At times as stock-still as the illustrated images on page."
Running with a variation on Hansel and Gretel, German director Christophe Hochhäusler tells the story of a flustered step-mother who dumps her husband’s children on the side of the road during a shopping trip to Poland; when she returns a few minutes and a cigarette later, they’re gone.The replacement wife/mother is unable to tell her distressed husband the truth, meanwhile as the young girl and boy fend through the forest and receive limited help from a Polish factotum whose interest in helping them increases with the possibility of a reward. On one hand, Hochhäusler aims for a serious-minded extension of the Grimm brothers’ tale, employing a steady, almost unbudging camera that alternates between cuts of close-ups and long shots. His mise-en-scène is almost to be as stock-still as the illustrated images on page, however without their color — though the overly portentous heavy score is a detraction. (Much of This Very Moment is drably coarse, which seems fitting after all, to the application of this tale.) Many of the elements added herein pump a new life into the story, but never does it fully re-imagine the fairytale as François Ozon did in Criminal Lovers. Transferring to the other hand, Hochhäusler elliptically motions to move in other directions beyond the simple alteration on Hansel and Gretel, partially which makes this stand on its own. The conflicted wife (played with classic Huppertian iciness by Judith Engel) clearly adds another dimension, whilst the children’s own misadventures have little to moralize in fable form, instead pleading cause-and-effect. (By the end, the only redeemable characters caught in the flurry of deception and selfishness are the father and the boy, Constantin.) As the peregrination falls heavily on the shoulders of the children, Sophie Conrad (visually, a mix of Björk and Amélie) and Leo Bruckmann cease to impress in their stoic portrayals, and Conrad’s increasing embodiment of a bitch is starkly frightening. With Horst-Günter Marx und Miroslaw Baka.[Worth-seeing.]
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Palm Springs Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Palm Springs Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Chicago Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Chicago Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Slamdance Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Slamdance Film Festival series, click here.