Release Date: October 20th, 2006 (IFC Center) by IFC First Take.
The Cast: Sandra Hüller, Burghart Klaußner, Imogen Kogge, Anna Blomeier, Nicholas Reinke, Jens Harzer, Walter Schmidinger, Friederike Adolph, Irene Kugler.
Directed by Hans-Christian Schmid.
In German with subtitles.
BASIC PREMISE: In 1976, Michaela (Hüller) suffers from severe epilepsy during her first year at college. Based on a true story.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Requiem boasts a breakthrough performance by Sandra Hüller who plays Michaela, a teenager who has epilepsy. In the first act, she moves away from her mother (Kogge) and father (Klaußner) to a college dormitory. After she stops taking her medication, her mental condition gradually deteriorates to the extent that she sees supernatural visions and can’t seem to touch a crucifix hanging on the wall. Her mother and father can’t help her at that point and even a priest merely treats it as a natural mental condition. Soon enough, a pastor comes to the rescue as an exorcist to release the potential demons that somehow got inside her. The screenplay by Bernd Lange maintains focus on Michaela and her condition without any unnecessary subplots or preachiness—like in The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Director Hans-Christian Schmid wisely doesn’t include any images of the devil so that Michaela’s condition remains mysterious. It would have been interesting, though, to include more scenes with Michaela when she acts relatively tranquil before stopping to take her medication so that she doesn’t seem too bland. A few scenes in the second act feel redundant. Nonetheless, Hüller’s outstanding performance makes this a very riveting, absorbing film.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: Is Michaela simply out of her mind or possessed with the devil? The answer to that question doesn’t come too easily—although she does eventually speak in a loud, hissy voice. Demons seem to communicate through her, but, again, the demons aren’t actually shown, so that’s also pretty subjective. Ultimately, the answer depends on whether you be believe in the supernatural without needing explicit physical proof.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: None.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 1
IN A NUTSHELL: Riveting and absorbing. Sandra Hüller gives a breakthrough performance.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)
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