Four Minutes (Vier Minuten) (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner05/03/2008

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 112 mins

Engaging and frequently surprising German drama with a sharply written script and compelling performances from its two leads.

What's it all about?
Monica Bleibtreu plays 80-year-old Traude Kruger, who has been teaching piano to prison inmates since the war ended. When she encounters Jenny (Hannah Herzsprung), a notoriously disruptive, unstable inmate, she sees raw talent and untapped passion in her and becomes determined to enter her in an upcoming piano competition.

Inevitably, teacher and student end up bonding, as both women discover that they have more in common than they first thought. But will Jenny manage to redeem herself in the competition or will her self-destructive streak get the better of her?

The Good
Director Chris Kraus handles the material with a sure hand, making judicious use of flashbacks and orchestrating some genuinely terrific musical sequences. The concert scene in particular is jaw-droppingly good and will stay with you long after you leave the cinema.

Monica Bleibtreu and Hannah Herzsprung spark off each other well, developing a relationship that is surprisingly moving and making Four Minutes a strange but effective combination of prison drama, musical and Inspirational Teacher Movie. As their relationship deepens and the past history of both women is gradually revealed, the drama becomes increasingly suspenseful, to the point where you're practically holding your breath at the end.

The Bad
That's not to say that the film is entirely without flaws - for one thing, Kraus can't resist the occasional spot of heavy-handedness, hammering a few points home that would be better left ambiguous. Similarly, some of the interesting supporting characters are left frustratingly under-developed.

Worth seeing?
In short, Four Minutes is an engaging drama that's worth seeing for its strong performances and an interesting take on the normally cliche-laden Inspirational Teacher Movie.

Film Trailer

Four Minutes (Vier Minuten) (15)
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Content updated: 21/09/2018 11:12

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