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Director: Hans Weingartner
Cast: Daniel Brühl, Julia Jentsch, Stipe Erceg
an (Daniel Brühl, from Goodbye, Lenin!) and Jule (Julia Jentsch) are on the roof of an apartment building sharing a bottle of wine and talking lefty politics.
“What do you think?” Jule says, “How many people down there are thinking about revolution?”
“In this moment, not many,” says Jan, “… at 10:45, they are watching TV. Europeans spend four hours a day in front of the boob tube. Four hours!”
“Terrible!” exclaims Jule.
And perhaps Jule is right, maybe it is terrible—but what precisely is terrible about it? Because let us think forward a year or two into the future when Europeans will be at home at 10:45 on a Friday night watching The Edukators—will this film manage to distinguish itself from whatever it’s teachy characters feel is so terrible about what else might be on telly?
“Che Guevara t-shirts or anarchy stickers …” Jan muses—are the reason there aren’t any more youth movements. Okay but what about pseudo-politico art-films starring photogenic actors in designer indie-wear? No doubt Jan & Jule must view them with the same disdain. That The Edukators itself offers scarce beyond such a description can explain much of its ungainliness.
"OK, we'll play Ninja Spies for now, but later I want to play Cowboys..."
Jan is a fiery type who grabs ticket inspectors by the throat and slams them into walls for hassling homeless people. A competent extrapolator of leftist agenda—he doesn’t say ‘fuck’ a lot, he’s an excellent cook, and his secret hobby, with less assertive companion Peter (Stipe Erceg), is breaking into villas, rearranging the furniture and leaving notes that say “you have too much money” but not stealing anything. All basically cute and audience-friendly.
Outside sheer filmic device, The Edukators can’t help us understand why Jan & Peter are doing what they’re doing—it tries to, unsuccessfully, in a scene where Jan talks about using fear as a “motor” rather than letting it control you. Which is all very well, but what they’re doing still seems, uh, kind of random and poorly thought-out—especially for such a direct guy as Jan.
Flimsily erected scenarios like this are the framework for the film’s deluge of expository dialoguing. The characters are constantly reminding us what the movie is about. Everything serves the message, and the film lacks the real-world unpredictability that directors like Michael Haneke (The Piano Teacher) or Lars von Trier (Breaking the Waves) are so good at.
And von Trier would be blushing, as Edukators borrows heavily from his patented Dogme ‘95 Manifesto with its jump-cutting and erratic hand-held camera work, yet is lacking von Trier’s artless mastery of Dogme. Jump-cutting in The Edukators will even occur, inexplicably, in the middle of a character’s oration—to the same shot, as if we’ve just missed something or been switched to a different take. Distracting. There also seems to be an abundance of mid-shots featuring the young actors in rock-postures, like a Diesel Clothing catalogue (Jan would
I Want My MTV!
Jan & Peter’s soft-vigilantism goes awry with the intrusion into their cabal by—you guessed it—a young woman, Jule (because even the women in lefty movies are the unstable, seductive ruiners of the best laid plans). And that leads to the uncalculated kidnapping of a rich businessman—Hardenberg, whom the Edukators will come to realize is not as one-dimensional as they’d assumed. This is the most entertaining section of the film, mainly as it’s so contrived. The kidnappers and their hostage have far too much to teach each other (and us) and their relationship is so amiable it begins to smell a little of it. At one point Hardenberg is even cooking for them– such a sweetie!
But if you’re looking for something lightly entertaining, and don’t mind blurring your eyes to its inconsistencies, I guess The Edukators could be a fun night out.
Well … or not. If it were less didactic, or permitted itself to be at all abrasive, or the plot had any sort of vitality—then it could be enjoyed as something other than a vaguely nauseating paella of contradicting intentions. But it doesn’t, and isn’t.
By: Kris Allison
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