Das ewige Leben
Director: Wolfgang Murnberger
Writer: Wolfgang Murnberger, Josef Hader, Wolf Haas
Based on: Wolf Haas‘ novel
Sequel to: Komm, süßer Tod, Silentium, Der Knochenmann
Cast: Josef Hader, Tobias Moretti, Nora von Waldstätten, Christopher Schärf, Roland Düringer, Margarete Tiesel, Johannes Silberschneider, Hary Prinz, Sasa Barbul
Seen on: 18.8.2015
Simon Brenner (Josef Hader) should retire. Problem is: with his precarious employment situation in his past, he doesn’t have the necessary insurance coverage to do so. All he owns is his grandfather’s house in Styria that is slowly falling to pieces because Simon swore never to go back there. But now he has no choice. Returning to the house, though, also means returning to his past, in the shape of his old friends Köck (Roland Düringer) and Aschenbrenner (Tobias Moretti). Their relationships are strained, events from the past still have their echoes in the present and to round things off, Brenner’s migraines are getting increasingly worse. But Brenner being Brenner, he can’t just leave things be.
Das ewige Leben is the last Brenner movie (so far) and also the strongest of the four films. It looks good, it’s funny, but it also doesn’t pull any punches and the cast is excellent. It’s not flawless, but it gets closer than any of the films that came before in the series.
In the last movies Brenner always had a different job, and usually not something stable, at least not after he lost his job as a policeman. Instead he has always worked whatever came his way, more or less successfully. This movie opens with the hard truths about this independent life: Brenner’s position is more than precarious. He has had no official employment or income for years, he hasn’t paid insurance, he has nothing to fall back on. That people can fall through the cracks even in a welfare state like Austria, is nothing new. But it’s rarely adressed as directly as it is here. And even rarer is a protagonist who is not uneducated, smart and doesn’t really have mental health issues – and still ends up basically homeless. With all those detective stories where the detectives usually live under dingy circumstances, the dinginess is almost glorified, it’s a question of style. And it never really leads to any longterm consequences. Here we get to see that a life like Brenner’s that was always right at the edge of outright poverty, may very well cross that line. And then it’s very hard to get back on your feet.
Add to that the raging migraines Brenner has to battle – and that are amazingly set in scene in the film, making you feel like you’re having a migraine yourself, although without most of the excruciating pain that comes with it – and you get a hero and a film that makes precarious working conditions and Brenner’s self-destructive streak every bit as unglamorous as they are.
All of that doesn’t sound like a recipe for fun, but somehow they manage to get the sense of humor back that I thought was missing in the last film (Austrians: world experts in gallows humor), keeping the movie from becoming entirely dreary. The warm, joyful flashbacks throughout the film also help to lighten the mood.
The movie isn’t perfect. I thought that the reveal about the relationship of Aschenbrenner and Dr. Irrsiegler (Nora von Waldstätten) was at once overly melodramatic and completely foreseeable. I would have preferred if they had just skipped the [SPOILERS] incest angle. [/SPOILERS] That being said, I didn’t mind that weakness too much because I liked Irrsiegler and I loved the relationship the two of them had together. And Moretti was a wonderful opponent for Hader.
If they do another Brenner movie, I hope they continue the trend they set with this last film.