Antibodies

What do you do when the director of a movie you recently reviewed on twitter decides to follow your tweets? Quite naturally you pander - shamelessly. Pander by trolling through his Filmography for your next movie review - Antibodies

Notwithstanding its confusing name, Antibodies is a bit like Silence of the Lambs meets Omen. It is a juxtaposition of good and evil, of faith and reason, of innocence and guilt, done against the backdrop of a man's fight with his inner demons. The movie starts off, veering wildly between the extremes. The story moves effortlessly between the past and the present, recounting the scars of horrific brutality. As time goes by the difference between the opposites seems to shrink, till at last it almost seems to teeter on the edge of a knife. And the shocking realization of the similarity of the extremes is what makes the movie pop.

When a serial killer Gabriel Engel (André Hennicke) is apprehended in Berlin, a cop Michael Martens (Wotan Wilke Möhring) from a nearby rural village is determined to take the opportunity to look for closure on an unsolved murder. Things get interesting when the reticent murderer takes a fancy to Martens, and decides to speak only to him. As answers, turns to lies and taunts, Martens must fight the germ of doubt that is suddenly sown in his mind. When I put it that way, maybe the title of the movie does make sense.

The screenplay is engaging from the first screen to the last. The story itself is absorbing, but the plot twists themselves aren't quite that shocking. There are enough obvious red herrings in the run up that make you suspect your own suspicions. Like the mop of unruly hair on the innocent face of the protagonist's silent son. Really?

Cinematography is brilliant. The color palette is co-opted to intensify part of the story telling - sometimes too blatantly. The village is saturated and bright, while city shots are typically flat, with a bluish tone. Several scenes are shot with a shallow field of depth, adding to a sense of isolation. Editing is brutal, choosing rapid cuts as psychopath and cop go back and forth in their verbal sparring. Which also makes it a problem, if you don't understand German, because you can only barely keep up with reading the subtitles, let alone watching the rest of the screen.

Considering this is a movie about a serial killer, there is some violence; nothing gratuitous. It is subtitled, so you are probably going to miss part of the screenplay. The story isn't unbelievably original. But that is not what a thriller is about. It is about how the story is told. And it is told well. Like a vortex, it starts of slowly, but before you know it you are sucked right into the thick of things. Which is exactly how a thriller ought to be.

February 11, 2011

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