The poets’ paths finally cross — and the pic starts its slow, wearisome decline — when he sees her performing an exotic routine with a flute in a nightclub and becomes enamored of her art. Hereon, the film has them reciting yards of their poetry to the camera or to each other (“I am the brink of your abyss that brushes against you,” etc.), between documenting Lasker-Schueler’s persecution by the Nazis and eventual exile, and Benn’s initial support of the jackbooters and later disillusionment. She eventually died in Jerusalem in 1945, and he a decade later.
Actress Lena Stolze does her utmost to breathe some life into the dryly realized character of the eccentric poet, and the best that can be said about her perf is that the pic would be unbearable without her charm and energy. Cornelius Obonya is vapid as Benn.
Film was shot in 12 days, mostly on a soundstage, and Angelika Flacke’s improvised score, mixing free jazz and Tibetan ritual music, only adds to the impression of cloying pretentiousness. For the record, Lasker-Schueler was also one of the subjects of Amos Gitai’s equally stagy “Berlin Jerusalem” (1989).