Going off the title alone, you could probably make a good guess at what this film is about… but the truth is that this film is an enigma. It is brutal, vicious, and hands down the most disturbing film I’ve seen in years. It’s written and directed by Polish director Andrej Zulawski, and it is a nightmare that transcends basic understanding.
Mark (a very young Sam Neill) comes home after being away on work for quite some time to find out that his wife Anna (Isabelle Adjani) wants a divorce. He suspects and questions if she’s been unfaithful and unhappy and he wants to understand, but things are far too complicated. What follows is a series of extremely brutal and vicious screaming, arguing, fighting, and absurdity. One moment the couple is laughing and getting along, the next they are smacking each other for a minute straight. One moment they are civilly talking about what to do about their son Bob, the next they are trying to kill themselves with an electric knife. A lot seems to happen at random, but there’s so much to this. The fact that it takes place in Berlin as the country itself was dividing shows the layers it plays on.
And to be honest, this is only the beginning. Much like ogres and onions, this movie has layers upon layers. At the midpoint, the film takes a dramatic turn that I never would have seen coming, and it made me fucking ill. The constant screaming, arguing, and then the flip at the middle made me terrified of what was going to happen. There’s also a scene near the end that infamously takes place in a subway that is either a huge metaphor, or the rawest depiction of an awful situation. This film is emotionally overwhelming and arguably just as disturbing as things like Martyrs or Irreversible.
The filming is intense too, reminding me of like Requiem for a Dream where it dares you to watch. Everything is heightened and continues to escalate further than i could have imagined.
This movie fucked me up. I needed to watch something light afterwards before I could go to sleep. The last half of the movie is completely harrowing, but I won’t even go down that road and risk spoilers. All I’ll say is if you’ve seen everything and most movies don’t affect you anymore, try this one. It will ruin your day and haunt your memories. I haven’t stopped thinking about it since… and it’s now in my top 10 films of all time.
‘Til Next Time, Mike Cleopatra