Existential cinema is done no favors by “Marseille,” the most maddeningly pretentious film-reverie yet from Germany’s poetess of emptiness, Angela Schanelec (“Places in the City”). Perverse, frequently baffling “story” about a German woman mooning around in southern France and Berlin has zero commercial potential outside the fest circuit that created the writer-director’s career, and even then will appeal to card-carrying fans only.
Visiting Marseille on an apartment exchange, young photographer Sophie (Maren Eggert) falls for a garage mechanic, Pierre (Alexis Loret). Back in Berlin, where she secretly loves Ivan (Devid Striesow), husband of best friend Hanna (Marie-Lou Sellem), Sophie feels shut out. So she travels back to Marseille, where she’s mugged in the street. Shot in fixed takes of varying length, sliver of a plot is strung out with soulless, taciturn conversations, sequences of silence and cityscapes, and a perverse refusal to engage the audience’s sympathy or interest. Technically, pic is fine, with sharp lensing by Reinhold Vorschneider.