Armin (Constantin Von Jascheroff) has just graduated from college. He has no plans for the future or any sizeable ambitions. His life is slowly becoming a predictable game of right vs. wrong, a never-ending questionnaire where people expect the young boy to provide them with lies. The kind that can get you a job, even the respect of your own family!
Unsure how to respond to real life Armin begins to dream. During a lonely walk the boy sees a dead man in what used to be a luxury automobile - an accident yet to be reported. Later on he sends the police a letter in which he "confesses" his involvement in the accident with a coldness no one finds suspicious. For the first time Armin feels alive!!
As rejection letters from prospective employers keep piling up Armin's patience dwindles. Unable to handle the pressure the boy succumbs to a dark dream in which a group of leather-clad bikers force him to have sex in an abandoned public restroom. Suddenly Armin's mind shuts off!!
Cold, with plenty of dark humor, and a script disallowing consistent pacing Christoph Hochhäusler's Falscher Bekenner a.k.a I am Guilty (2005) provides a glimpse in the brittle world of a boy with some serious issues. Finding solace in self-inflicted pain while dismissing the "rational world" surrounding him the main protagonist quite well serves as a litmus test to everything and everyone society regards as normal.
The picture explores the thin line between childhood and adulthood and the pressure youngsters face while finding their place in society. The confusion raging in Armin's soul however produces some much more serious border-line hallucinatory scenes the audiences will likely question long after the final credits roll.
Fittingly enough I am Guilty is intentionally fractured into little pieces where the more one attempts to uncover logic the more everything appears impossible to align. Cause, action, and reaction are most definitely not part of Christoph Hochhäusler's oeuvre.
What does drive the story in I am Guilty is the impressive performance by Constantin Von Jascheroff. His character is truly impossible to read through even though initially it appears that Armin is just another teen alienated by the world of grown up men. Interestingly enough there is a great sense of irony here as the more the story progresses the more it becomes obvious that those around Armin are not terribly sane either!!
The film was part of the official selection at the Cannes Film Festival (Un Certain Regard) in 2005 as well as the Berlin International Film Festival. In 2006 Christoph Hochhäusler was nominated for Best Director at the Max Ophuls Film Festival in Saarbrucken, Germany.
How Does the DVD Look?
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and enhanced for widescreen TV's the print provided by TLA Releasing appears to have been sourced from a PAL-master. This being said "ghosting" is very minor and aside from some intrusive edge-enhancement the presentation is indeed very good. Colors are lush (excellent use of a variety of greys), contrast is quite well handled, and damage is practically nowhere to be found. If I had to guess I would say that TLA Releasing simply ported the German R2 release of this film and added the needed English subtitles – not a disappointing decision but proper conversion was most certainly needed here!!
How Does the DVD Sound?
Presented with a German DD 2.0 track and optional English subtitles (very well done) the audio is noticeably better than the video presentation. Dialog is very easy to follow and I did not notice any disturbing occurrences worthy of discussion here! Overall nothing really to be critical about even though I wish this disc was provided with the more elaborate 5.1 track found on the German R2 DVD.
Aside from a very short text-format statement by the director of the film and the original theatrical trailer there is nothing else to be found here. This is actually a bit disappointing as I am Guilty is a very complex film which surely would have benefited from the inclusion of additional bonus material (interviews, behind the scenes).
I thoroughly enjoyed the performance by Constantin Von Jascheroff!! Versatile, surprisingly mature, and with a terrific sense of composure this young German actor practically carried the entire film on his shoulders. The narrative is equally impressive providing plenty of food for thought. I am going to downgrade my evaluation because of the improper transfer and only "recommend" I am Guilty instead of granting it the deserved "highly recommended".