Proxima (2019)

Proxima
Director: Alice Winocour
Writer: Alice Winocour, Jean-Stéphane Bron
Cast: Eva Green, Zélie Boulant, Matt Dillon, Aleksey Fateev, Lars Eidinger, Sandra Hüller
Seen on: 10.8.2021

Content Note: (critical treatment of) sexism

Plot:
Sarah (Eva Green) is an astronaut at ESA. Or she hopes to become one – so far, she has been preparing while taking care of her daughter Stella (Zélie Boulant) mostly on her own as she is separated from Stella’s father, astrophycisist Thomas (Lars Eidinger). When Sarah finally gets the call she’s been waiting for, when she is finally assigned a mission, things change quickly and drastically for Sarah and Stella. Sarah has to go to Russia for her mission training, Stella has to move in with Thomas. Both knew this was coming, but living it brings more challenges than expected.

Proxima is a quiet film, focusing on the trivialities of space travel in a way that feels entirely revolutionary and gives it a new, feminine-coded take we very much needed.

The film poster showing Sarah (Eva Green) in her astronaut suit holding her daughter Stella (Zélie Boulant), behind them a rocket getting ready to lift off.
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Ich bin dein Mensch [I’m Your Man] (2021)

Ich bin dein Mensch
Director: Maria Schrader
Writer: Jan Schomburg, Maria Schrader
Based on: Emma Braslavsky‘s short story
Cast: Maren Eggert, Dan Stevens, Sandra Hüller, Hans Löw, Wolfgang Hübsch, Annika Meier, Falilou Seck, Jürgen Tarrach, Henriette Richter-Röhl
Seen on: 25.6.2021

Plot:
Alma (Maren Eggert) is a scientist specialized in cuneiform. To secure funding for her research, she has agreed to participate in another experiment, despite her doubts about it: she is one of several scientists testing humanoid robots by living with them and seeing whether they can become actual romantic partners for humans. Her robot is Tom (Dan Stevens). Specifically designed for her, he is supposed to stay with her for three weeks. But with Alma’s resistance against the idea, Tom has his work cut out for himself.

Ich bin dein Mensch is an entertaining film with fantastic performances that discusses a topic that may not be entirely new, but still gets a fresh and thought-provoking spin here.

The film poster showing Alma (Maren Eggert) and Tom (Dan Stevens) lying next to each other. Tom is repeated,  into infinity.
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Schlaf [Sleep] (2020)

Schlaf
Director: Michael Venus
Writer: Thomas Friedrich, Michael Venus
Cast: Gro Swantje Kohlhof, Sandra Hüller, August Schmölzer, Marion Kracht, Agata Buzek, Max Hubacher, Martina Schöne-Radunski
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 18.9.2020
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Plot:
Mona (Gro Swantje Kohlhof) lives with her mother Marlene (Sandra Hüller), a flight attendant who struggles with sleep issues – or rather, she struggles with her dreams. Marlene is convinced that her recurring dreams are pointing her towards a real place and she thinks she has found it. Unbeknownst to Mona, she makes her way to the giant hotel in the middle of nowhere that she believes is the place she is dreaming about. But it doesn’t take long and Marlene suffers a full-blown break-down. Mona comes after her and tries to figure out what is going on with Marlene and her dreams. And something is definitely going on.

Schlaf is an excellent film that moves nicely between dream/nightmare logic and political commentary. It’s a pretty wild ride that took me in completely.

The film poster showing a blond woman in a red dress with her back to the camera in a forest so dark, it's almost entirely black.
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Sibyl (2019)

Sibyl
Director: Justine Triet
Writer: Arthur Harari, Justine Triet
Cast: Virginie Efira, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Gaspard Ulliel, Sandra Hüller, Laure Calamy, Niels Schneider, Paul Hamy, Arthur Harari
Seen on: 3.8.2020

Plot:
Sibyl (Virginie Efira) is a therapist who feels inspired to return to her first passion of writing novels. So she lets go most of her clients and prepares to write a novel. When she gets a call from the young actress Margot (Adèle Exarchopoulos) who is in obvious distress, she makes an exception and takes her own as a client as well. In Margot’s story, she finds the inspiration she needed for her novel, but the more time they spend together, the deeper Sibyl gets sucked into the story herself.

Sibyl gives us an antiheroine in quite a few very complicated relationships (and if they aren’t complicated on their own, she knows how to complicate them). This is engaging material, especially with that cast, but it does spiral a little too much at times.

The film poster showing half of Sibyl's (Virginie Efira) and half of Margot's (Adèle Exarchopoulos) face.
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Toni Erdmann (2016)

Toni Erdmann
Director: Maren Ade
Writer: Maren Ade
Cast: Sandra HüllerPeter SimonischekMichael WittenbornThomas LoiblTrystan PütterHadewych MinisLucy RussellIngrid BisuVlad IvanovVictoria Cocias
Seen on: 24.7.2016

Plot:
Winfried (Peter Simonischek) is a strange man, a bit of a prankster. After his dog dies, he decides to visit his daughter Ines (Sandra Hüller) who works in Bucharest as a consultant. The two of them don’t really speak or get along all that well and Ines is not exactly thrilled at having her father drop by unexpectedly. But Winfried won’t give up trying to reconnect. Instead he becomes the eccentric Toni Erdmann, saying he is the German ambassador and starts showing up everywhere Ines goes, much to her consternation – at least at first.

Toni Erdmann came with high accolades and high expectations on my part. Unfortunately it almost completely failed to work for me.

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