A E I O U – Das schnelle Alphabet der Liebe [A E I O U – A Quick Alphabet of Love] (2022)

A E I O U – Das schnelle Alphabet der Liebe
Director: Nicolette Krebitz
Writer: Nicolette Krebitz, Valeska Grisebach
Cast: Sophie Rois, Udo Kier, Milan Herms, Nicolas Bridet, Moritz Bleibtreu
Seen on: 7.7.2022

Anna (Sophie Rois) is an actress, but she’s been having a hard time finding jobs. Due to her outspoken nature, she is considered difficult, and she isn’t young anymore. Her landlord and friend Michel (Udo Kier) has been patient with rent, but he won’t be patient forever, probably. So Anna decides to take on a student as a vocal coach. Said student is Adrian (Milan Herms), a young boy who needs help with a theater project to pass his class. Adrian also happens to have stolen Anna’s purse not too long ago. Anna finds herself intrigued with him, and takes him on as a student regardless. Adrian, too, finds himself fascinated by Anna, and their lessons soon take on a different nature.

A E I O U is an unusual film, not only in the central pairing, but also because it dares to give an older woman an amour fou. It’s funny, and romantic in a fucked up way, but above all, it’s free(ing).

The film poster showing Adrian (Milan Herms) and Anna (Sophie Rois) running through the street with makeshift newspaper masks.

Anna is not your usual heroine. The way she stands up to the sexism that (female) actors have to face is admirable (there is a recording of a talkshow Anna did in her heyday where she confronts the host (Mortiz Bleibtreu) that is absolutely cathartic), the sadness after the passing of her husband is palpable. Adrian gives her the chance to cut loose, and she can’t resist – she who is hiding her cigarettes from herself to keep herself under control. Even though we all know that it isn’t appropriate at all, he is 40 years younger than her and her student.

The film is also not shy about showing how Anna will cut her losses if she has to. As much as she enjoys that amour fou with Adrian, she is smart enough to know when he has to call it quits and save her own hide. It’s also selfish, and the entire thing makes matters considerably worse for Adrian, but we can all stand to see female characters behave like this without being prompted to hate them.

Adrian (Milan Herms) and Anna (Sophie Rois) posing as if they're shooting arrows from a bow.

A E I O U shares a certain surreal quality without being actually fantastical that Krebitz already nailed in Wild, and that I adore. In A E I O U, it is emphasized by Anna’s voice-over that is rather lyrical, even when it describes seemingly mundane things. It is the second voice over in a short while (after The Worst Person in the World) that I actually liked, despite my usual hate for them.

Kier is a warm and charming presence, and newcomer Herms is wonderful in the utter abandon he lays into his character. But Rois is the star of the film and nothing can change that. She is fantastic. The film would be worth seeing for her performance alone, but it has so much more to offer.

Anna (Sophie Rois) sitting in her kitchen.

Summarizing: really great.

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