Jule (Julia Jentsch) Peter (Stipe Erceg), and Jan (Daniel Brühl) are three young political activists in Berlin. Jule works long hours as a waitress to pay off the crippling debt she owes to the owner of a Mercedes she accidentally ran into after letting her car insurance lapse. While her boyfriend, Peter, is away on a work trip, Jan tells Jule what he and Peter get up to at night. Calling themselves "the Edukators" they break into rich people's homes. They don't steal or break anything, just rearrange the furniture and leave a note saying "the days of plenty are numbered" or "you have too much money". Jule and Peter spontaneously decide to break into the home of the owner of the Mercedes, and it's all fun and games until Jule realises that she has lost her mobile phone somewhere in their target's house.
The Edukators was listed as a crime drama, so I was pleasantly surprised at how light-hearted it turned out to be. From the synopsis on the DVD case I was expecting something more like Funny Games (1997), or Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007), with a simple plan spiralling out of control and leading to dark consequences. While things definitely do go wrong for the three young idealists, and they do commit crimes, there is little physical violence. Instead, most of the film is about the Edukators' political ideals and the attraction that forms between the three of them. Daniel Brühl looks a little like Cillian Murphy, so I wouldn't have blamed Jule for being drawn to him over the dopey Peter. I'd be afraid of cutting herself on the latter's magnificent cheekbones.
Directed by Austrian director Hans Weingartner, and influenced by his activist background, the film was first screened at Cannes Film Festival in 2004. It won a number of awards. The three young actors give impressive performances.
The Educators is a playful, optimistic film, oddly so for a story about home invasion and kidnapping. The ending is bittersweet and leaves a lot of room for discussion.