An exceptional performance by Karoline Eichhorn as a patient lesbian lover provides dramatic underpinning to “Unknown Friend,” an atmospheric debut by Norwegian writer-director Anne Hoegh Krohn. Pitched halfway between the arty and commercial, pic would sit well on any quality web.
After five years in stir, Ellen (Eichhorn) is “out” and looking for Katrin (Inga Busch), the bisexual lover for whom she committed some unspecified crime. Katrin, however, is not so keen on meeting up and, while Ellen keeps calling, flashbacks fill in the past — during which Ellen bided her time while Katrin romped with an abusive husband, Moritz (Birol Uenel). One weekend at a country house, Moritz ended up dead and Ellen took the rap; now Ellen tells Katrin she only wants them to be together. Basically a generic psychodrama, outfitted with techniques like memory flashbacks seen in present time, pic is elevated by Eichhorn’s touching study of devotion, with an unexpected sting in the tail. Busch, alas, sometimes overdoes the trashy side of Katrin’s character, making Ellen’s devotion seem misplaced. Movie was Krohn’s graduation work from Berlin’s DFFB film school but is pro on every level.