Review: ‘The Architect’

A family with the unsubtle name Winter figuratively thaws and freezes again in the snow-bound Tyrolean landscape of "The Architect," thesp Ina Weisse's obvious tempest in a cracked teapot.

A family with the unsubtle name Winter figuratively thaws and freezes again in the snow-bound Tyrolean landscape of “The Architect,” thesp Ina Weisse’s obvious tempest in a cracked teapot. Though the name actors do their best to dig themselves out from under the frost, and Carl-Friedrich Koschnick’s handsome, chilly lensing gives the whole a slick veneer, the script wallows in the dysfunctionality of a family for whom secrets and noncommunication are the norm. Unpleasant, exaggeratedly sombre view of yet another frigid German upper-middle-class household is unlikely to travel beyond home-language borders.

A reluctant Georg (Josef Bierbichler) returns to his birthplace for his mother’s funeral. Tensions with waspish wife Eva (Hilde van Mieghem) and kids Jan (Matthias Schweighoefer) and Reh (Sandra Hueller) are already thick, but when they learn Georg has a teenage son, Alex (Lucas Zolgar), with former neighbor Hanna (Sophie Rois), and that Alex has inherited the family house, all hell breaks loose. Hints of incest and the characters’ whining dissatisfaction with the hand life dealt them do not create a hoped-for Teutonic Tennessee Williams climax. Glowing snowscapes and pleasant if standard chamber music complete the picture.

The Architect

Germany

Production

A Neue Visionen release of a Reverse Angle Pictures presentation and production, in collaboration with Norddeutscher Rundfunk. Produced by Felix Eisele. Executive producer, Peter Schwartzkopff. Directed by Ina Weisse. Screenplay, Weisse, Daphne Charizani.

Crew

Camera (color), Carl-Friedrich Koschnick; editor, Andreas Wodraschke; music, Annette Focks; production designer, Susann Bieling; costume designer, Stefanie Bieker. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (market), Feb. 11, 2009. (Also in Rotterdam Film Festival -- Bright Future). Running time: 91 MIN.

With

Josef Bierbichler, Hilde van Mieghem, Matthias Schweighoefer, Sandra Hueller, Sophie Rois, Lucas Zolgar, Harald Abdelhamed, Hark Bohm, Maria Hofstaetter, Erich Schroeck, Johannes Silberschneider.

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