Shot entirely in black and white, Andreas Pieper’s film Entzauberungen (Disenchantments), follows four individuals stories. The characters, all of whom are in their thirty-somethings, are struggling to obtain certain life ambitions or lack there of.
Split into four separate installments, the film delves into each characters lives. During each protagonist’s expose, Pieper subtly weaves other characters’ lives with each other with no profound consequence or reward. It seems he does this only to remind the viewer of the proximity and parallel between characters.
Aleks, the first character introduced to the audience is an irritable, angry young man who has been scarred by the Yugoslavian war. It becomes apparent that his involvement with a university’s war game exercise will be more difficult than anticipated. In it for just the money, Aleks apathetic approach attracts a classmate, Maria. However, Aleks’ hope for starting a relationship with Maria turns sour when she reveals her past.
The chapter closes on Aleks’, as the bar he regularly attends happens to be a favorite of Anna’s as well. Anna, a German teacher at the same university Aleks’ briefly attended, is in an apathetic relationship with her boyfriend who wants to take the next step and start a family. Reluctant to this idea, Anna begins to have an affair with an American lawyer whom she was giving private German lessons to.
With lack of a subtle transition, the film then focuses on a scientist, Sarah. Lonely and angst filled, Sarah is disappointed to learn that her project she has worked on for two years has becomes obsolete because of another scientist’s findings. Relegated to doing phone surveys, she believes she hears a gunshot during one of the interviews. Learning of a local unsolved murder, she becomes obsessed and begins to stalk her suspect.
Lastly, Bastian is introduced. A smart young professional who is a product of a broken home. His insignificant relationship with his father soon changes when he confesses to Bastian of his terminal illness.
What strikes me about this movie was Pieper’s ability to make ordinary stories interesting. Most of the camera work was done with nicely framed static shots. Coupled with the black and white color used, the stories evoked a stronger feeling with me. Unfortunately, it lacked any suspense or closure I was hoping for from the characters. Albeit, the acting was excellent. The cinematography seemed to enhance the actors talents. Though somewhat compelling at times, the films dreary look and mundane material became stale.
Showtimes for Entzauberungen (Disenchantments):
Sunday, January 16, 2011 @ 9:00pm (Castro Theatre)