Review: ‘Lucy’

Distressingly young single mother makes some achingly bad decisions in keenly-observed social drama. Confirming the clear-eyed storytelling style and deft talent with young thesps on display in his debut feature, "Class Trip," helmer and co-scripter Henner Winckler should see more fest invites, modest regional buys and disc afterlife.

A distressingly young single mother makes some achingly bad decisions in the keenly-observed social drama “Lucy.” Confirming the clear-eyed storytelling style and deft talent with young thesps on display in his debut feature, “Class Trip,” helmer and co-scripter Henner Winckler should see more fest invites, modest regional buys and disc afterlife for this accomplished sophomore effort.

In an urban neighborhood of eastern Berlin, Maggy (Kim Schnitzer) shares care of her infant daughter Lucy (Polly Hauschild) with mom Eva (Feo Aladag). Or, to be more precise, Maggy schemes to get Eva or anyone — staunch chum Daniel (Jakob Bieber), even the girl’s father, Mike (Ninjo Borth), whom she clearly dislikes — to watch the child so she can go to the local club and drink with her friends.

During one such sojourn, she meets bartender Gordon (Gordon Schmidt), who lives in a neat apartment and sells computer equipment over the Internet. Soon the two are living together, but clearly treating domesticity more as a game than real life. The couple soon tire of each other, and, while her mother minds Lucy, Maggy hooks up with another guy.

As with “Class Trip,” Winckler and co-scripter Stefan Kriekhaus employ simple, clean storytelling to relate an incident-packed tale wherein resonant art springs from patient observation. Ken Loach’s work is an obvious reference point, though there’s even less genre convention here than in his often emotionally charged films.

Perfs are similarly uncluttered, with Schnitzer succeeding in generating sympathy for Maggy despite her wearying immaturity. Bieber and Borth bring an aching sadness to their variations on the spurned suitor. Even little Hauschild appears to be hitting her marks with skill.

Tech package is unobtrusively professional. Once again, Winckler eschews a formal score in favor of ambient aural flavorings. Mentioned in the closing credit crawl is former classmate, friend and script adviser Maren Ade, whose own debut feature “The Forest for the Trees” shows a narrative authority similar to that on display here.

Lucy

Germany

Production

A Piffl Medien release (in Germany) of a Schramm Film Koerner + Weber production, in association with ZDF, Das kleine Fernsehspiel. (International sales: Schramm Film Koerner + Weber, Berlin.) Produced by Florian Koerner von Gustorf, Michael Weber. Directed by Henner Winckler. Screenplay, Winckler, Stefan Kriekhaus.

Crew

Camera (color, Super 16-to-35mm), Christine A. Maier; editor, Bettina Boehler; production designer, Reinhild Blaschke; costume designer, Lotte Sawatzki; sound, Johannes Grehl. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Forum), Feb. 12, 2006. Running time: 93 MIN.

With

Kim Schnitzer, Gordon Schmidt, Feo Aladag, Polly Hauschild, Ninjo Borth, Ganeshi Becks, Jakob Bieber, Klara Manzel. (German, Russian dialogue)
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