Not A Word (German Film Festival 2024) - Film Review

Not A Word (German Film Festival 2024) - Film Review

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Posted 2024-05-01 by Jenfollow

Tue 07 May 2024 - Wed 05 Jun 2024


Image - German Film Fest 2024

Directed by Hanna Slak and starring Maren Eggert, Jona Levin Nicola, Maryam Zaree, Juliane Siebecke, Mehdi Nebbou, Not A Word is 87mins long and enjoying its Australian premiere at the German Film Festival . Do check out the rest of the program via the given link and see what this year's Festival has in store for you. You can also Download the Program if you haven't already picked up a hardcopy from Palace Cinema . With something for everyone, Kino for Kids is the sidebar for budding cinephiles at the Festival, presented by the Goethe Institut Australia . Festival dates are as follows - Canberra: 7 May – 29 May; Sydney: 8 May – 29 May; Brisbane: 9 May – 29 May; Melbourne: 10 May – 29 May; Adelaide: 15 May – 5 June; Byron Bay: 16 May – 5 June; and Perth: 16 May – 5 June.

Images this & below © Ici et La Productions, Staragara, Volte

Orchestra Conductor and single mother Nina (Maren Eggert) and her teenage son Lars (Jona Levin Nicolai) may live under the same roof, but they couldn't be further apart. When Lars is injured in a dubious accident at school, Nina decides to pluck herself away from her busy life of orchestra rehearsals and constant phone calls, to take her son away for a break and give him her undivided attention. They head from Munich to an island in Western France where they generally spend their summer vacation; one imbued with fond family memories. However, this barren island in winter is no Shangri-La. It's windy, dark and cold. Aside from a small store on the island filled with supplies and run by a mother, with her daughter by her side, there's not a lot to do other than take a walk, hike, or take the boat out for a ride. Unfortunately, the boat is broken. In a small beach house with only each other for company, mother and son are forced to face each other and confront the years of silence and misunderstandings.


Writer-director Hanna Slak’s atmospheric fourth feature, you'll find a mother and son worlds apart. Nina has no time at all for her son in her highly competitive job as a conductor, her mind and thoughts engrossed in preparations for what could be a pivotal moment in her career. It's obvious Lars is missing his father in his life, and is noticeably withdrawn, and withdraws further as time goes on. There's been an incident at school, where a young girl goes missing, her body later found burnt. Lars is not too keen to share any information with his mother about the girl, which leads to misunderstandings multiplying, and suspicions rising. When the winter storm cuts the last connection to the mainland, a confrontation ensues, that could take the situation to dangerous places. The landscape of the island and the bleak stormy weather seems to reflect the relationship between mother and son - bleak, stormy, isolated, barren, hostile and distant.


The film establishes the distance and lack of communication between mother and son from the start, when she talks into a drone to ask him what he wants for breakfast; him not coming out, and her not entering his room. From there on, this void is the obvious backdrop, brimming with tension you could cut with a knife. The silence is deafening. This family drama and coming-of-age film touches on the complexities of single parenting, a relationship between mother and son, and communication breakdown, with shades of being a dark thriller filled with suspicion. Maren Eggert and Jona Levin Nicolai's performances as mother and son make them a formidable duo, their stilted, minimal conversations with each other heartbreaking and realistic. They are the personification of the thin line that exists between love and hate. Director Hanna Slak is a master at rendering a tempestuous emotional journey on screen. A mood piece that speaks volumes - a tangible atmosphere where silence does most of the job. Considering there are just two central characters, a barren island where nothing really happens, this film manages to completely engage you and hold your attention, invested in all the emotions displayed and hidden.


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284631 - 2024-04-29 04:41:50

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