Lou Andreas-Salomé aka In Love with Lou – A Philosopher’s Life
Director: Cordula Kablitz-Post
Writer: Cordula Kablitz-Post, Susanne Hertel
Cast: Katharina Lorenz, Liv Lisa Fries, Nicole Heesters, Helena Pieske, Matthias Lier, Katharina Schüttler, Philipp Hauß, Alexander Scheer, Julius Feldmeier, Merab Ninidze, Peter Simonischek, Petra Morzé, Harald Schrott
Seen on: 21.9.2016
Psychoanalyst and philosopher Lou Andreas-Salomé (Nicole Heesters) has lived an interesting life and now that she is getting older, she is ready to tell her life story. Watched by her maid Mariechen (Katharina Schüttler), young writer Ernst Pfeiffer (Matthias Lier) comes to her house to write her biography: when Lou was younger (Katharina Lorenz), she fell in love with philosophy and psychoanalysis, while men around her kept falling in love with her – men like Friedrich Nietzsche (Alexander Scheer), Paul Rée (Philipp Hauß) or Rainer Maria Rilke (Julius Feldmeier). But all Lou wanted was to live life on her own terms.
Lou Andreas-Salomé is an excellently acted and beautifully filmed biopic with an interesting structure about a fascinating woman. But unfortunately it attempts too much and too little at the same time to make it well-rounded.
We get to hear too little about historically significant women, especially when it comes to thinkers. So I really loved the idea of getting a film about Lou Andreas-Salomé. But unfortunately the film falls into another trap: while it does center a woman, it only talks about her in relation to the (famous) men in her life. It looks like Lou never had any female friends, and even her relationship with Mariechen – that seemed to be very complex – was shortchanged, so we could be shown that even at 72, Lou had the charisma to make a young man fall in love with her.
Not only were the homosocial ties left out, we also got to hear as good as nothing about what she wrote and thought about in her professional life. What we do get to hear is her absolute refusal to get married, but then she changes her mind about that and the film doesn’t really go into her reasoning there. While I thought that Friedrich Carl Andreas (Merab Ninidze) was probably the best choice to get married to (although this version of Rilke had absolute game), I was still left wondering about that change of heart.
So, where I expected more of the film in that regard, there were many moments where I felt like the film expected more of me: many people are barely introduced and it’s just assumed that the audience knows, for exampe, who Friedrich Carl Andreas was and what he did. The film could have erred more on the side of caution with what it assumes to be general knowledge.
That being said, I still enjoyed watching it and hearing about Lou Andreas-Salomé of whom I had heard practically nothing before the film. Obviously much care has gone in the casting, with Katharina Lorenz a particular stand-out, and in recreating the look of the time that seems to stick closely to the available photographs. It’s a gorgeous film that is worth seeing despite its flaws.