"A cleverly scripted, well acted mix of social commentary, drama and comedy"
Hans Weingartner's The Edukators is a hip new German flick that effectively utilises both drama and comedy to converse its anti-capitalist ideals. Its target audience appears to be both the young activists it portrays as well as those who once had burning anti-materialistic ideals only to become conformists later in life. It follows believable characters thrown into an extraordinary situation and succeeds in getting its message across without becoming too preachy.Two friends Jan (Daniel Bruhl) and Peter (Stipe Ecreg) who live in Berlin are frustrated with the capitalist world that they inhabit. But rather than engaging in violent protests they prefer to go under their alter ego of The Edukators. Under this moniker they break into homes of the wealthy and mock their symbols of consumerism by rearranging their belongings. Jan and Peter like to mess with the affluent’s sense of security and leave notes stating that their days of plenty are numbered.
Things are going well for them both until Peter goes away for the weekend and his girlfriend, Jule (Julia Jentsch), discovers their other identity whilst hanging out with Jan. Jule pressures Jan into taking her on an Edukators mission. Things go very wrong and they end up with a hostage named Hardenberg (Burghart Klaussner) after they are caught in the act. Faced with the dilemma of whether they should seek ransom, execute or trust their prisoner not to tell the police they regroup with the angered Peter and head off to a chalet owned by Jule’s uncle in the Austrian Alps to think things over. But rather than turning out to be a terrified hostage, Hardenberg is a very vocal detainee who reveals that he was once a student revolutionary and leaves the trio questioning their ideals and relationships. To complicate matters further a love triangle looms threatening to destroy Peter and Jan’s friendship.
The acting is superb all round with Daniel Bruhl (Goodbye Lenin) being the standout. Performances like this should put him hot on the heels of Gael Garcia Bernal as one of the most sought-after young foreign actors around. What could have been a very bleak movie actually has quite a serving of humour thanks to a very clever script when the tables are turned on the kidnappers with a wonderful performance by Burghart Klaussner.
For the most part it is well shot but the digital hand-held format chosen does not work for it’s entirety considering the length of the movie and the spectacular location of the second half of the film. I understand the use of hand-held video during the early scenes of the movie to show a sense of immediacy during urban riots and tense break-ins but it is a shame that the majesty of their surroundings when they bunker down in the Alps is lost due to this format.If there is any major flaw with The Edukators is that it runs a tad too long at 127 minutes, outstaying its welcome a little in the mountains. But having said that, it is still a very well acted and passionate film that takes socially relevant topics and presents them in a thoroughly entertaining manner. Also any shortcomings are instantly forgiven by the time it comes around to its very satisfying and tidy ending.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2005 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Philadelphia Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Seattle Film Festival For more in the 2005 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Atlanta Film Festival For more in the 2005 Atlanta Film Festival series, click here.