Antares is a film that I had heard much about before actually having the chance to see it, with most of the advance buzz revolving around the extremely graphic, true to life depictions of a healthy range of sex acts. Well, that buzz is accurate - the sex is graphic and not at all glammed up - but, like 9 Songs and other recent films of this ilk, there's not a lot to the film beyond that. Director Gotz Spielmann may know his way around a camera and he is obviously able to build trust with his actors but there simply isn't a single character in this film that I care about enough to invest in the film as anything other than a curiosity.
Antares is a film built around three interwoven stories of really fairly selfish people behaving badly in their relationships. There is a married hospital nurse having an affair with a visiting doctor; a grocery store clerk pretending to be pregnant as a ploy to trick her philandering boyfriend into marrying her; and a racist, potentially violent man stalking his ex-wife as he just plain refuses to acknowledge that their relationship is over and she doesn't want him around.
Beyond the thematic sex-gone-bad link all three stories are tied together by the fact that all of the principal characters live - or, in the case of the ex-husband, try to live - in the same apartment building and they all interact with each other through the course of their stories. Though the stories are presented one at a time, with Spielmann focusing on one set of characters with the other appearing only on the outskirts, it is quickly clear that all three actually take place simultaneously which allows you to see characters and events from multiple perspectives. It's a nice trick but without compelling characters to tie it to it ultimately feels like squandered potential ...
This edition was released by the subscriber-only Film Movement series and though the disc is short on extras it does a solid job on the film itself. The transfer is excellent, in 16:9 anamorphic widescreen with excellent contrast and true blacks. The film itself appears to have been shot on digital video and so you do see the limits of the source from time to time, but the presentation itself is solid.
The film features the original German audio track with excellent English subtitles. The only audio choice available is 2.0 stereo, which is disappointing, but the mix is fine and this is the sort of intimate drama that really doesn't need a hefty sound mix.
Like I said above, this is pretty much the film only. While some Film Movement releases apparently include commentary tracks and the like, this isn't one of them. All you get here are cast and crew biographies and - as is the case with all FM releases - an unrelated short film, in this case three minutes of someone riding their bike through New York's Holland Tunnel with a handy-cam. And now that I've summed that short film up for you there's really no need to watch it.
As is too often the case when people decide to 'break the rules' Antares is a film dominated by its 'transgression' to the detriment of the rest of the film. If Spielmann had given even a hint of who these people were outside of these relationships, if he'd given us something to hang some emotional investment on to, he'd have a much stronger film than he does. As it stands Antares is a film that showcases Spielmann as a director with some impressive talent when it comes to constructing, shooting and editing his film and he will undoubtedly appeal to many in the Dogme crowd but Antares is ultimately too thin on the characters to really hit with any lasting effect.