Review: ‘Abschied Von Agnes’

This is a somber little film which, with its limited settings and cast (it's virtually a two-hander), would probably have played better onstage or on television. There's an intriguing idea here, but pic takes too long to get to the point.

This is a somber little film which, with its limited settings and cast (it’s virtually a two-hander), would probably have played better onstage or on television. There’s an intriguing idea here, but pic takes too long to get to the point.

Set in what used to be East Berlin, it centers on Heiner, a retired scientist who lives alone mourning his beloved wife, Agnes, though it’s not entirely clear whether she died or left him. One night, a young man, Stefan, asks to be let into Heiner’s apartment, and once inside, refuses to leave. It seems he was a former member of Stasi (East German secret police) and that he knows all about Heiner because the Stasi had a file on him, a file containing the most intimate details of his fears and dreams, details that could surely have come only from his beloved Agnes.

The film plods along on this theme until near the end, when it becomes intriguing (Stefan dresses up in Agnes’ clothes), but by then, interest in the outcome has pretty much waned. Michael Gwisdek, who scripted and then took over the film’s direction when the original helmer became ill, gives a solid performance as the mournful Heiner, while Sylvester Groth is more interesting as the edgy, possibly still dangerous, Stefan.

Technical credits are modest.

Abschied Von Agnes

Production

An Ost Film production, with Filmhaus Munchen, Dok Film, Babelsberg. Produced , directed, written by Michael Gwisdek, from the book "The Silence Under The Sea ," by Hans Loffler. Camera (color), Roland Dressel; editor, Rita Reinhardt; music, Detlef Petersen; production design, Paul Lehmann; sound, Paul Oberle; assistant director, Marlies Butzlaff. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (non-competing), Feb. 19, 1994. Running time: 99 MIN.

With

Heiner ...Michael Gwisdek Stefan ... Sylvester Groth Old Man ... Gerhard Straus-Joachimsthal Girl ... Heide Kipp
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