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Free to Leave

A railroad controller's momentary distraction leads to terrible consequences in "Free To Leave," a potentially interesting chamber drama that jumps the tracks and crashes with all on board.

With:
With: Frank Giering, Lavinia Wilson, Corinna Harfouch, Robert Stadlober, Alfred Dorfer, Thierry van Werveke.

A railroad controller’s momentary distraction leads to terrible consequences in “Free To Leave,” a potentially interesting chamber drama that jumps the tracks and crashes with all on board. Update of a respected 1937 play by Austro-Hungarian writer Odon von Horvath wastes a good cast in a metaphysical story that doesn’t convince at any level. Only Austrian d.p. Andreas Berger (“Anatomy 2”) escapes intact with some stunning widescreen lensing of his country’s landscapes. Auds will likely find themselves free to leave.

Hangdog Thomas (Frank Giering), seemingly happily married to Hanni (Corinna Harfouch), hasn’t made one mistake in his 12 years directing traffic at a station somewhere in German-speaking Europe. On a busy day, however, a brief kiss with longtime friend Anna (Lavinia Wilson) causes a crash that takes 22 lives, including that of his best friend, Josef (Alfred Dorfer). Thomas and Anna become locked in a psycho-sexual relationship driven by guilt and, on her side, love. As the betrayed wife, Harfouch is wasted in a thin role that disappears at the halfway mark; Giering either mopes around or over-emotes; Wilson is irritatingly fey in a part sans any apparent emotional motivation.

Free to Leave

Austria-Luxembourg

Production: A Poool Filmverleih release (in Austria) of a Lotus Film (Austria)/Iris Prods. (Luxembourg) production. (International sales: Bavaria Film Intl., Munich.) Produced by Erich Lackner, Nicolas Steil. Directed, written by Peter Payer, based on the play "Der juengste Tag" (Judgement Day) by Odon von Horvath.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Andreas Berger; editor, Cordula Werner; music, Andre Mergenthaler, Walter Cikan; art director, Elisabeth Klobassa, Christina Schaffer; costume designer, Uli Simon. Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival (competing), Aug. 5, 2007. German dialogue. Running time: 101 MIN.

With: With: Frank Giering, Lavinia Wilson, Corinna Harfouch, Robert Stadlober, Alfred Dorfer, Thierry van Werveke.

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