Paints the protracted disintegration of the long-term relationship of two Berlin artists.

“The Visible and the Invisible” paints the protracted disintegration of the long-term relationship of two Berlin artists. Markedly less approachable than the best work of indie German vet Rudolph Thome, this pic will be glimpsed mainly at fests and in ancillary.

Though he’s supposed to be accepting an important accolade and a sizable sum for his bold and colorful canvases, artist Marquard von Polheim (Guntram Brattia) is instead zipping around on his motorcycle and swilling vodka. This infuriates his long-time partner, Maria Doebereiner (Hannelore Elsner), herself an artist working on a successful series of paintingsof horses.

Yet as becalmed as this couple clearly is, they confess their need for each other in between bouts of drinking and bickering. That is, until Marquand tumbles for his long-time model, Angie (Stefanie Rosse). Confessing this to his grown daughter, Lucia (Anna Kubin), their time together leads to an impromptu road trip, hinting at incest, that reps the pic’s strongest passage.

Meanwhile, Maria has journeyed into her past, rekindling an old affair with philosopher and horse breeder Gregor (Hansa Czypionka). Many of Thome’s films explore the burden of artistic temperament. Though “Visible” exhibits sure signs of his novelistic approach to this theme, gaps in the explanations and development of relationships cloud the narrative waters. Main thesp’s chief challenges involve rendering Marquand’s self-loathing tolerable and Maria’s passivity credible. Current Thome regular Elsner is up to the task, but Brattia just can’t summon the charisma necessary to sell the idea that his friends and loved ones tolerate his selfish behavior.

Per usual in Thome’s work, the tech package is impeccable. Lenser Fred Kelemen, listed here with the middle name “Efrem,” also shot Bela Tarr’s recent “The Man from London.” Thome can be glimpsed taking a beer at an outdoor cafe.

The Visible and the Invisible

Germany

Production

A Prometheus release (in Germany) of a Moana Film production. (International sales: Moana Film, Berlin.) Produced, directed, written by Rudolf Thome.

Crew

Camera (color), Fred Efrem Kelemen; editor, Doerte Voelz Mammarella; music, Wolfgang Boehmer; production designer, Susanna Cardelli; costume designer, Katrin Berthold; sound, Christian Wersuhn; assistant director, Serpil Turhan. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (Focus on World Cinema), Sept. 3, 2007. (Also in Munich Film Festival.) Running time: 118 MIN.

With

Guntram Brattia, Hannelore Elsner, Anna Kubin, Hansa Czypionka, Stefanie Rosse, Rufus Beck.
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