Auditioning thesps are a little more than colleagues and less than kind in "Boundaries."

Teuton thepians auditioning for the leads in “Hamlet” are a little more than colleagues and less than kind in “Boundaries,” writer-helmer Andreas Kleinert’s oddball tale of backstage romance and backstabbing. Again shooting in crisp black-and-white after his “Paths in the Night,” Kleinert here finds some substance to match his style, even though the tonally diverse material never becomes more than the sum of its parts. While Shakespeare in German might sound rotten to Anglophone ears, this play-within-a-film might be the thing for smaller fests elsewhere.

A once-great director (Matthias Habich) summons a motley crew of Berlin actors to nowheresville, where he works with them for a week before making his choice, with Kleinert following everyone onstage and off. Though this might conjure visions of “American Idol” for German stage actors, individual scenes, ranging from drama to hilarious comedy, are often smarter than that, though because they’re improvised, they often work better as stand-alones than as part of a larger whole. Klara Manzel, a possible Ophelia, and Paul Preuss, as a teenage theater technician, are the standouts in a strong ensemble. Tech package is tidy.

Boundaries

Germany

Production

An HFF Konrad Wolf presentation and production. Produced by Javelle Bauersfeld. Directed, written by Andreas Kleinert.

Crew

Camera (B&W, 35mm/HD), Jakob Seeman; editor, Till Ufer; composer, Daniel Dickmeis; production designer, Myrna Drews; costume designers, Simone Kreska, Simone Zimmermann. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Panorama), Feb. 17, 2010. German, Russian dialogue. Running time: 96 MIN.

With

Matthias Habich, Paul Preuss, Klara Manzel, Volkram Zschiesche, Christoph Humnig, Nora Rim Abdel-Maksoud, Jessica Richter, Matthias Ransberger, Jan Dose, Julia Gorr, Moses Leo.

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