Films like Everyone Else laugh in the face of criticism. Maren Ade has meticulously crafted a story about a young couple who are spending time in the Mediterranean while the boyfriend, Chris (Lars Eidinger), works on plans for a house, and the girlfriend, Gitti (Birgit Minichmayr), lounges around, trying to raise Chris' spirits. The film is ostensibly about the slow, painful crumbling of their relationship, which slowly but surely splits apart like a crack forming in a giant iceberg, the rift becoming wider by the second. It's an agonizing, soul-crushing experience, but it could easily be argued both that such pain is Ade's intention, and such pain is accurate and honest to what it's like when love turns sour.
At first, it is Chris who is cold. Chris is unsure of his ideas for a client's house, and hems and haws about what to do. He is tense and pre-occupied, and Gitti's childish, playful games begin to rub him the wrong way. Eidinger has the perfect face for the film, registering both genuine happiness and an annoyed coldness with equal force, the latter of which is like an icicle into the heart of the viewer whenever he chooses to use it. Already, Ade's pushed the scales too far to one side, turning the entire first half of the film into an endurance test of Chris's moody, ecthat will leave the viewer wondering why anyone would even try to be Chris's girlfriend.
Meawhile, Gitti peers over his shoulders at every opportunity, more focused on the getaway as a romantic vacation. All she wants is some carefree time with Chris, but his refusal to come out of his shell quickly grates on her, and her neuroses herself and what Chris might be thinking begin to seep in. In one truly agonizing scene, Gitti literally leaps up onto Chris's body like a monkey in an attempt to get him to stay rather than head into the city for a drink with his friend, but she just slides down to the ground and stays there while Chris, disgusted, walks away.
Taken at face value, Ade's vision for the movie isn't an awful one. The destruction of a nice couple like Chris and Gitti could certainly have artistic value, if the right issues are eplored. But Ade keeps the couple at a calculated distance at all times. I wouldn't quite say it's overwritten or feels forced, but each scene plays out with a grating precision. Everyone Else is a movie where the wrong thing is always said, the wrong glance is always misinterpreted, and the attempts to lighten the mood are always on the wrong side of taste or timing. Watching the film is like watching the gears of a broken machine fail to work for two hours; you quickly realize you just want to scream at someone to shut it off, take it apart, put everyone out of their misery.
At the very end of the picture, there's a hint that Everyone Else might go to an even darker, more depressing place, but it was such a break from the film's established cycle of hate that I almost welcomed it. At least something would've happened. At least someone would have appeared to be affected by their decisions. Sadly, Ade brings things back up to an ending that just doesn't make any sense, almost suggesting the film, or at least the relationships, could've gone on forever. It's enough to make one thing true love doesn't exist, and why on earth would one want to think that?
The sexy artwork for Everyone Else, paired with a J. Hoberman quote, effectively sets the tone for at least one aspect of the film. The back cover makes nice use of negative space, without cluttering up the simple design. Inside the case, there
is a booklet containing an essay by Cinema Scope editor Mark Peranson.
The Video and Audio
Cinema Guild's 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer looks alright during the daytime scenes, when mosquito noise and blurry edges are kept to a minimum, but when the characters sit down to eat in the evening, the loud, harsh, digital
noise crawls acros every surface. Blacks are also blotty and overwhelming, obliterating background details in low-lit scenes. Again, for the most part, out in the son, the movie looks alright, but on the whole, a new release film should look a lot better than this.
Since most of Everyone Else is about cold, awkward silences and quietly venomous conversations, the disc sticks with an acceptable German 2.0 track that mixes the dialogue over whatever background ambience is present in the
scene -- mosquitos, distant waves, the road, or just slightly agonizing white noise. The film is subtitled in English.
The complete and honest truth is that Everyone Else frustrated and depressed me to the point at which I did not want to watch the special features. I'm sure they're very nice, but I just couldn't do it. For the record, though, the disc contains A Summer Without Gitti, a short film (9:38) by Ade made from Everyone Else footage, a reel of deleted scenes (6:09), outtakes (7:56), interviews with Minichmayr, Eidinger and Ade (14:15), and the movie's original theatrical trailer. Trailers for Marwencol, Around a Small Mountain, Sweetgrass, 35 Shots of Rum, Beeswax, The Beaches of Agnes, Jerichow, and Yella are also included.
A painful, upsetting drag of a movie that doesn't seem to say much about its hateful characters, Everyone Else is more "torture porn" than several Saw sequels mashed together. You might as well watch a couple you know personally break up instead; at least you might feel a connection to people you actually like. Skip it.
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