Onkel Wanja [Uncle Vanya] (2017)

Onkel Wanja
Director: Anna Martinetz
Writer: Anna Martinetz
Based on: Anton Chekhov‘s play
Cast: Martin Butzke, Korinna Krauss, Wolfgang Hübsch, Julia Dietze, Manuel Rubey, Michael Kranz, Marion Krawitz, Katalin Zsigmondy, Doris Buchrucker, Karl Knaup
Part of: Diagonale
Seen on: 14.3.2018

Alexander (Wolfgang Hübsch) has withdrawn to his uncle Wanja’s (Martin Butzke) country estate to escape the financial crisis that is shaking the city and has caused a revolution. In the country, things still are mostly the same and Wanja and Sonja (Korinna Krauss) want to keep it that way. But Alexander and his wife Elena (Julia Dietze) have business ideas – lots of them.

Onkel Wanja is an ambitious project that tries a lot but it’s unfortunately also one that fails a lot. For me it was mostly marked by feeling long and exhausting, although there were a few bits that were pretty strong.

I thought it was an interesting idea to transplant the play into current times. With the added revolution and the references to a financial crisis, the film emphasizes the criticism of capitalism that was already in the play (as far as I can tell). And with the castle they found to shoot in, which is all kinds of amazing, but also very empty, they add another layer to it.

The cast is also good. Especially Manuel Rubey impressed me – so far he didn’t stand out to me in the films I saw him in, but in this one, he outshone the rest of the cast and pretty much the rest of the film.

But unfortunately, that’s where my praise of the film stops. It felt much longer than it was – and it wasn’t short to begin with. And the cinematography really annoyed me. There is one scene in particular where the camera runs in circles around the cast and it goes on for a very long time and a pretty high speed and I literally started to feel sea-sick.

The slow pace and the camerawork turned the film into a test of my patience and pretty much eradicated its strength, meaning that overall I left the film feeling exhausted and just grateful that it was over.

Summarizing: too ambitious for its own good.

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