Yella (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner19/09/2007

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 89 mins

Engaging, well acted and impressively directed German drama, though the ending is a bit of a disappointment.

What's it all about?
Yella (Nina Hoss) is an East German woman who is desperate to escape her obsessive ex-husband Ben (Hinnerk Schonemann). She lands an accounting job in West Germany but rather foolishly accepts a lift to the station from Ben, who promptly drives his car off a bridge.

Escaping the crash, Yella then experiences a further setback when her new job turns out not to exist, or rather, exists only as a sexual lure by her creepy would-be employer. However, when she meets Philipp (Devid Striesow) she finds a new lease of life (and love) in the increasingly surreal world of dodgy finance deals, but is her new life too good to be true? And is Ben really still stalking her?

The Good
Hoss is superb as poker-faced Yella and her performance deservedly won her the Best Actress award at the Berlin Film Festival. Striesow is equally good as the mysterious Philipp and there's strong support from both Schonemann (who, weirdly, looks a lot like Striesow) and from Burghart Klaussner as one of the businessmen Yella tries to scam.

Director Christian Petzold shoots the film in a deceptively still fashion, giving the landscapes, houses and offices an oddly surreal quality that works well. He also subtly repeats similar shots throughout the film (e.g. Yella lying on the beach after the crash and Yella lying on a hotel bed) that adds to the film's almost Lynchian atmosphere.

The Bad
The film's biggest problem is that the ending is far too obvious and reminiscent of trashy Hollywood thrillers. It also loses its emotional impact because you see it coming a mile away.

Worth seeing?
Aside from the guessable ending and the general sense that there's a political subtext that isn't quite coming through, Yella remains a watchable and engaging drama, thanks to a superb performance from Nina Hoss.

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Content updated: 16/07/2018 11:25

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