Roman (Thomas Schubert) is in juvie, and has been there since he was fourteen. Five years later and a possibility for parole comes up, but only if he manages to find a job outside – and hold it for a while. After a few false starts, Roman chooses a job at a morgue where he starts working under supervision. But the upcoming change in his future doesn’t only mean figuring out what’s going to happen, but also coming to grips with his past.
Atmen is an extremely confident and competent debut and a frankly fantastic movie. I’m very impressed, not only with Karl Markovics as a director, but also with Thomas Schubert and the rest of the cast.
The movie is moving at a very slow pace and objectively nothing much happens (though a lot happens for and in Roman). Yet it is not boring, not for a single second. And that’s because Markovics and Schubert immediately create so much context for Roman that the most routine of actions – like tying a tie – can have so much meaning that it moves you to tears.
Sometimes the metaphors get a bit away from Markovics. When Roman frees the Bird of Metaphor it is a bit too clichéd. But even then the scene holds enough power so that you don’t mind, not really. In fact, despite the cliché, I was very touched by that scene.
Though of course Markovics and Schubert deserve most of the accolades, that doesn’t mean that the rest of the cast should not be mentioned. Georg Friedrich, Karin Lischka and Gerhard Liebmann in particular made for an amazing supporting cast.
Atmen is Austria’s Oscar submission this year – and a very worthy contender. It’s not a movie about the holocaust, so it probably won’t win but it’s excellent enough to deserve it in any case.
Summarising: Pretty damn close to perfect.