×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

A Woman in Berlin

An incendiary anonymous diary describing Russian soldiers raping and pillaging during the final days of World War II -- and an against-all-odds relationship that emerged from that -- become a stately, intermittently gripping, ultimately overlong drama in helmer Max Faerberboeck's "A Woman in Berlin." Handsome item will do the obligatory fest circuit and could even attract distrib attention on the strength of its subject matter and the rep of Faerberboeck's earlier "Aimee & Jaguar," set in the same city at approximately the same time.

With:
With: Nina Hoss, Evgeny Sidikhin, Irm Hermann, Ruediger Vogler, Ulrike Krumbiegel, Rolf Kanies, Joerdis Triebel, Rosalie Thomass, Katharina Blaschke, Maria Hartmann, Sandra Hueller, Isabell Gerschke, Erni Mangold, Roman Gribkov, Juliane Koehler, Samvel Muzhikyan, Viktor Zhalsanov, Aleksandra Kulikova, Oleg Chernov, Anne Kanis, August Diehl. (German, Russian dialogue)

An incendiary anonymous diary describing Russian soldiers raping and pillaging during the final days of World War II — and an against-all-odds relationship that emerged from that — become a stately, intermittently gripping, ultimately overlong drama in helmer Max Faerberboeck’s “A Woman in Berlin.” Handsome item will do the obligatory fest circuit and could even attract distrib attention on the strength of its subject matter and the rep of Faerberboeck’s earlier “Aimee & Jaguar,” set in the same city at approximately the same time.

A German journo (Nina Hoss), known only as “Anonyma,” documented the events of mid-1945 in handwritten diaries for soldier b.f. Gerd (August Diehl), who’s disappeared to the Eastern Front.

She’s spent the fall of Berlin hiding in the basement of her partially damaged apartment building with a diverse group of neighbors. There’s a take-charge widow (former Fassbinder regular Irm Hermann); a pair of effervescent sisters (Joerdis Triebel, Rosalie Thomass); an elderly bookseller (Katharina Blaschke); a liquor magnate (Maria Hartmann); two lesbian lovers (Sandra Hueller, Isabell Gerschke); a refugee girl in hiding (Anne Kanis) and a resolute octogenarian (Erni Mangold).

After being raped repeatedly by a number of coarse Russian soldiers, Anonyma begins complaining to officers and finally finds one, Andrei (Evgeny Sidikhin), who seems willing to not only listen, but to help. Against all odds, the two become close.

Each woman develops her own way of coping with these unrelenting violations. Upon Gerd’s return, he’s aghast at what’s happened and the decisions taken in the name of survival.

There are undeniably serious issues raised by the revelations in Anonyma’s diary, and for a time, Faerberboeck explores how the women managed to retain their dignity. Yet by elongating the sequences establishing a handful of Russian soldiers as the heartless villains of the piece, the pic comes to appear to wallow in the depravity it’s condemning.

Large cast meshes well, though fewer storylines would streamline impact and running time.

Tech credits are pro, with a skillful blend of CGI and Polish sets creating a bombed-out Berlin that is utterly believable. Subject was also covered in Helke Sanders’ early 1990s docu “Liberators Take Liberties,” which came out at about the time the diary was first causing a sensation. “Aimee & Jaguar” co-star Juliane Koehler has a small part here.

A Woman in Berlin

Germany

Production: A Guenter Rohrbach, Constantin Film production, in association with ZDF, Tempus Film. (International sales: Beta Cinema, Oberhaching, Germany.) Produced by Rohrbach. Executive producer, Martin Moszkowicz. Directed, written by Max Faerberboeck, from the diary "Anonyma: A Woman in Berlin."

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Benedict Neuenfels; editor, Ewa J. Lind; music, Zbigniew Preisner; production designer, Uli Hanisch; costume designer, Lucia Faust; sound (Dolby Digital), Manfred Banach. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Special Presentations), Sept. 5, 2008. Running time: 131 MIN.

With: With: Nina Hoss, Evgeny Sidikhin, Irm Hermann, Ruediger Vogler, Ulrike Krumbiegel, Rolf Kanies, Joerdis Triebel, Rosalie Thomass, Katharina Blaschke, Maria Hartmann, Sandra Hueller, Isabell Gerschke, Erni Mangold, Roman Gribkov, Juliane Koehler, Samvel Muzhikyan, Viktor Zhalsanov, Aleksandra Kulikova, Oleg Chernov, Anne Kanis, August Diehl. (German, Russian dialogue)

More Film

  • Playwright Mark Medoff author of "Children

    Mark Medoff, 'Children of a Lesser God' Playwright, Dies at 79

    Mark Medoff, the playwright who wrote Tony Award-winning play “Children of a Lesser God,” died Tuesday in Las Cruces, N.M. He was 79. His daughter Jessica Medoff Bunchman posted news of his death on Facebook, and the Las Cruces Sun-News attributed the cause to cancer. “Children of a Lesser God” starred John Rubinstein and Phyllis Frelich [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Interscope Films Relaunches With Full Slate at Tribeca (EXCLUSIVE)

    The Interscope record label’s interest in film/music crossover isn’t exactly a secret: With hit companion albums for “A Star Is Born,” “Black Panther” and “La La Land,” they’ve seemed to own the soundtrack space at times in recent years. And the company hasn’t completely made a secret of its desire to move into film production. [...]

  • Avengers: Endgame

    'Avengers: Endgame': Fans and Theaters Assemble for Biggest Marvel Movie Ever

    For San Diego resident Shawn Richter, “Avengers: Endgame” is more than the conclusion to a monumental period in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As the West Coast branch chair of Avengers Initiative, a cosplay charity that raises money for causes like the Ronald McDonald House Children’s Charities, the comics of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby are [...]

  • Jillian Bell appears in Brittany Runs

    Amazon's 'Brittany Runs a Marathon' Sets Summer Release

    “Brittany Runs a Marathon” will be rushing to theaters on Aug. 23. Amazon Studios dated the comedy on Wednesday. The pic, starring Jillian Bell (“Rough Night,” “22 Jump Street”), won the audience award at the Sundance Film Festival. The flick follows the titutal Brittany, who decides to run around New York City in order to [...]

  • Lionsgate Hires Lynn Whitney in Marketing

    Lionsgate Hires Former Warner Bros. Exec Lynn Whitney

    Lionsgate announced Wednesday that Lynn Whitney will become head of worldwide paid media, partnerships, promotions and consumer products. Whitney was formerly the executive VP of worldwide media at Warner Bros.   In her new role, Whitney will build out media campaigns for movies like Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron’s romantic comedy “Long Shot.” “I am [...]

  • El silencio de otros

    Film Review: 'The Silence of Others'

    “Forgiven but not forgotten” is a platitude we routinely use to end disputes both petty and grievous, but it’s the reverse outcome — the mass forgetting of crimes and conflicts never truly resolved — that itches away at a post-Franco Spain in “The Silence of Others.” Soberly chronicling the ongoing legal battle of General Franco’s [...]

  • A Womans Work-The NFLs Cheerleader Problem

    Tribeca Documentaries Explore Gender Issues in Sport

    Up until recently, what it meant to be a professional female athlete in a world dominated by men wasn’t an issue that garnered high volumes of public interest, let alone national headlines. But that all changed in October 2017 when stories from the New York Times and the New Yorker detailing sexual allegations and improper [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content