North Face (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner11/12/2008

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 121 mins

A gripping German drama with jaw-dropping photography, great performances and an emotionally engaging script.

What's it all about?
Based on a true story, North Face is directed by Philipp Stoelzl and stars Benno Fuermann and Florian Lukas as ace mountain climbers Toni Kurz and Andi Hinterstoisser, who set out to climb the notorious North Face of the Eiger in 1936. However, they're not alone: the prospect of an Olympic Gold Medal has drawn climbers from all over Europe and as Kurz and Hinterstoisser begin their ascent, they're hotly pursued by hotshot Austrian climbers Willy Angerer (Simon Schwarz) and Edi Rainer (Georg Friedrich).

Meanwhile, Kurz and Hinterstoisser's childhood friend Luise (Johanna Wokalek) arrives to cover the story as a journalist, accompanied by her boss, Nazi loyalist Herr Arau (Ulrich Tukur). A chance meeting at the foot of the Eiger rekindles Luise's long-held feelings for Kurz, but things are complicated by the fact that Arau also seems interested in her.

The Good
The film is beautifully shot throughout, with spectacular cinematography by Kolja Brandt. Stoelzl's direction is equally impressive, particularly in the pacing – at various times he conveys the frustration of sitting around and waiting for the weather, the pain-staking, inch-by-inch progress of the climb itself and the horror of waiting out an avalanche with frostbite setting in.

In addition, Stoelzl orchestrates some astonishing sequences (most notably the Hinterstoisser Traverse sequence) and does a good job of conveying the political uncertainty of the period.

The Great
The performances are excellent: Fuermann and Lukas spark off each other brilliantly, showing the depth of their friendship despite their vastly different personalities. Wokalek is equally good as Luise, while Tukur's character is oddly likeable for someone who's meant to be a Nazi (his relationship with Luise is genuinely intriguing and doesn't play out the way you expect).

Worth seeing?
In short, North Face is a beautifully shot, well written and superbly acted drama that tells a powerful story. Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

North Face (12A)
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Content updated: 21/08/2018 06:40

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