Erik (Jürgen Vogel) leads a rather quiet life as a mechanic together with his girlfriend Julia (Petra Schmidt-Schaller) and her daughter. But then one day caravans arrive and with the caravans a bit of Erik’s past catches up with him in the form of Henry (Moritz Bleibtreu). Henry might not be entirely real but that doesn’t make him any less threatening to everything Erik has built up.
Stereo is an entertaining film with good pacing. I did have some issues with it – mainly its treatment of the Roma in the film and the misogynistic language sometimes used – but it was enjoyable enough that I didn’t even mind that I foresaw the biggest plot twist.
The movie plays it’s (first) premise pretty straight – the poster already makes it pretty clear that this is going to be a multiple personality type of film (btw. I really like this poster). But it takes that only as a starting point for the plot. It’s not about finding out that Henry isn’t actually there but what it means that he suddenly shows up when he shows up.
Jürgen Vogel and Moritz Bleibtreu both deliver strong performances and it’s pretty awesome to watch them interact in the scenes, especially when somebody else is in the room. (Which also gave the film a bit of comic relief.) But the real star of the show, for me, was Georg Friedrich. (He usually is. That man is awesome.) His Keitel is creepy and powerful and weasely – it’s great.
Since I did like most of the film, it makes it a little disappointing that they felt it was necessary to continuously have the bad guys use misogynistic slurs. I get it, they’re evil so their vocabulary can’t possibly be refined and yadda yadda. But there are so many ways to curse – why does it always end in cunt? Even more offensive, though, was the portrayals of the Roma: classic stereotypical, shady, criminal “gypsies”. Ugh. I also could have done without the turn to the magical in the second half. It came out of nowhere and felt displaced.
But despite these issues, Stereo remains a strong film. It has beautiful cinematography with some really impressive shots, it’s well-paced and I wasn’t bored for a single second.