FunAstrology"No one is with the calves" in the cinema:...

"No one is with the calves" in the cinema: Green is the pasture

Sabrina Sarabi’s anti-Heimat film “Nobody is with the calves”.

Cinema, say the Americans, is bigger than life. But there is something else stuck to German film that is bigger than life, that is the word “Heimat”. The topos of fateful location in landscapes and traditions has outlived all fashions and political systems, and reunification has suddenly made many of the old stories about mentalities and invisible borders seem relevant.

What do a handful of big city films from the Weimar Republic or the “Berlin School” weigh in the overall picture of German cinema compared to legions of mountain and homeland films, critical “New German Homeland Films” and fairy tale films with a home look? Some get hold of the spirit by calling it by its name, like Edgar Reitz. But on TV, the eternally green forests naturally find new mountain rescuers and farmers looking for brides every day.

Sabrina Sarabi, the director of “Nobody is with the calves”, knows what film historical ballast she is loading onto the cart with the film adaptation of Alina Herbing’s debut novel of the same name from 2017. And yet her astonishing work seems strangely free from his conventions. Here, too, the landscape plays the second main role – alongside the 24-year-old Christin (Saskia Rosendahl), who simply can’t stand it anymore between the cowsheds and the picturesque pastureland in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania because her head is bursting. It would have been easy to exaggerate the landscapes, to the sublime as well as to the terrible.

Instead, Sarabi and her talented photographer Max Preiss approach them as in an art-loving documentary: matter-of-factly, but with an eye for their summery seductive power. After all, anyone who wants to talk about a broken relationship would do well to start with the charms of the unsubscribed partner – even if this is a landscape. This film has something of the unvarnished beauty that American independent cinema bestows on a provincial Kelly Reichardt. There it is the western genre whose legacy always resonates in landscape dramas.

The opening scene makes short work of the idyll. From the passenger seat of a tractor, we experience with Christin’s eyes how her friend Jan (Rick Okon) runs over a deer and immediately blames the poor animal for it: “Shit critters, hey!” We’re lucky: In the novel it’s by combine harvester chopped up – and the young woman later finds his well-preserved ear in the grass: “completely light, as if it could still hear and wobble and everything. I feel sick.”

A few shots later, the next carcass comes into view: a dead common buzzard lies near a windmill, which a wind turbine engineer expertly packs into a garbage bag. It’s prosaic when the most beautiful landscape is gray everyday life. And the fact that the sun has now dressed up for the blue hour doesn’t really matter to those present. Not a good omen for the affair that immediately begins between Christin and the windmill man (Godehard Giese), who is about two decades older.

This excellent opening sets the stage for what follows. Certainly many would not have missed the romantic opportunities of such a film beginning. But this tragic heroine’s half-hearted escapes don’t anticipate romance. Anyone who hasn’t made the leap at the age of 24 has hardly been waiting for a stranger with a Hamburg license plate.

It’s interesting how this filmmaker films literature without sticking to dialogue or even relying on an inner monologue. Her feeling for looks and gestures is all the stronger – again and again in contrast to an excess of barely noticed beauty. In addition to the landscape, this also includes the lavish, unstylish way in which the main character deals with her own attractiveness.

None of the main characters tends to be talkative, only the mother of the best friend doesn’t stop talking. What Christin can’t do, the young woman managed without any announcement or subsequent explanation: she broke away. There is something improvised about this scene in its unpolished language, and it would have made sense to shoot this autobiographically colored novel in a semi-documentary style.

It is all the more impressive how Sarabi works with classic cinematic means instead. Of particular note are Tone and Sounddesign (Jonathan Schorr and Dominik Leube), which slowly swell the sounds of nature, such as the ubiquitous buzzing of flies, into a subliminal threat.

American cinema has almost made a genre of its own out of youthful provincial escape stories. Eventually there might be a Greyhound bus going to New York. Anyone who manages to take such a grandiose leap can afford to take a nostalgic look back. None of that here: the scene in a village disco alone can hardly be surpassed in terms of misery. City dwellers who dream of moving to such an area with their children – the novelist Alina Herbing experienced it in a certain Schlagensülsdorf – should definitely think about what awaits them there as young people.

Nobody is with the calves. Germany 2022. 116 mins.

Arbor Day: "Nature is the greatest artist"

Gerhard Reusch transforms her works into abstract and surreal images. The Aschaffenburg artist photographs the bark of native trees.

Hay fever: Something is blooming again!

Spring is finally beckoning in all its glory. But that's exactly the problem: cabaret artist Anne Vogd has hay fever.

"Inventing Anna" on Netflix – wasted potential

The Netflix series "Inventing Anna" puts accents in the wrong place and waters down a suspenseful crime. The "Next Episode" series column.

ARD crime scene from Hamburg: The transparent "tyrant murder"

Today's Hamburg crime scene "Tyrannenmord" of the ARD with Wotan Wilke Möhring has no time for the big questions.

Curved Things

About snake smugglers, snake lines and a rare phobia.