Lou Andreas-Salomé was a psychoanalyst, femme fatale, philosopher and a rebel. She fascinated the masterminds of her age and pushed the boundaries of her time. Vowing to never marry, she pursued a life of intellect and free-spiritedness and was one of the first female psychoanalyst.
Based on a true story, Lou Andreas Salomé (1861-1937) was Russian born in St. Petersburg to an army general and his wife. An only daughter with 5 brothers, her parents were actually of French Huguenot and Northern German descent.
Seeking to be educated she went to Zurich for a university education after being taught theology, philosophy, world religions and French and German literature by Dutch preacher Hendrik Gillot. Though 25 years senior to her 17 years at the time, he was so infatuated with Salomé, he was willing to leave his wife and marry her. Over many years there were countless men smitten by the enigmatic Lou whom had vowed never to marry; driving many crazy with desire.
The men of note in her life were Paul Rée, an author and compulsive gambler with whom she proposed living in an academic commune at the age of 21. In the same year, they were joined by Rée's friend Friedrich Nietzsche, a German philosopher, cultural critic, poet, philologist and Latin and Greek scholar; forming a threesome you might say.
Though vowing never to marry, Lou did have a celibate marriage with linguistics scholar, Friedrich Carl Andreas, and they remained married from 1887 until his death in 1930. Though married, Lou engaged in affairs throughout her married life. Her closest relationship was with German poet Rainer Maria Rilke who was 15 years her junior at 21, when they met. Their long time intense relationship spawned a book of their love letters, spanning their 30 year relationship.
Meeting Sigmund Freud in 1911, Lou became engrossed in psychoanalysis and was the only female accepted in the Vienna Psychoanalytic Circle. Lou and Freud remained friends for the rest of their lives.
The film covers all of these relationships and did well at bringing to life the story of a woman who lived in a way, uncommon for its time. She chased an education, lived with extreme freedom and basically damn well did as she pleased. Actor Katharina Lorenz portrayed the perfect balance between the intellectual and femme fatale without going over the top in both personas well supported by the rest of the cast that played her at various ages (Helena Pieske as the little girl; Liv Lisa Fries as the 17 year old and later Nicole Heesters in her 70s).
The performances of the rest of the main cast (Alexander Scher as Nietzsche, Philipp Hauß as Paul Rée and Julius Feldmeier as Rainer Maria Rilke) embedded themselves into the era so beautifully, it was all very believable and took you to that time effortlessly. Lou's mother, actor Petra Morzé was the perfect choice as the pushy mother doing hopelessly at influencing her daughter to stay uneducated and unemployed like all other women of the time.
On another note, postcards are beautifully and cleverly used to bring us into each scene. When you see the film, you'll know what I mean when I say it got to the point where I began to wonder where Lou was (much like Where's Wally?) going to appear from in the postcard, and come to life.