© Filmlichter GmbH

Brownian Movement
The Netherlands 2010

Opening 30 Jun 2011

Directed by: Nanouk Leopold
Writing credits: Nanouk Leopold
Principal actors: Sandra Hüller, Dragan Bakema, Sabine Timoteo, Ryan Brodie, Frieda Pittoors

A “Brownian movement” is, according to Webster’s English Dictionary, “a random movement of microscopic particles suspended in liquids or gases resulting from the impact of molecules of the fluid surrounding the particles.” This might be clear to you if you are a scientist. If not, you are probably confused, just as you will be after watching this film.

A nice-looking young woman (Sandra Hüller) rents an apartment for her trysts with (hairy) lovers whom she meets at work. This is a secret second life, hidden from her compassionate husband and their small son. A fourth of the film is dedicated to her sexual escapades; a fourth to her husband discovering and coping with his wife’s secret. For the remaining half, the wife stares into space. Is she thinking? Sinking? The film might get interesting, if we knew what she was thinking about, even if it were, “What’s for dinner?” In the end, she gets caught, as she must (“He doesn’t trust me any more”), and she loses her job. She moves to India for a new start with her foolishly devoted husband and innocent child. Perhaps this new environment will cure her addiction to sex with strangers. We’ll never know and neither do we care.

Why did the 2011 Berlinale organizers chose Brownian Movement (showed in the Forum category)? Why was there so much hype about the Dutch director Nanouk Leopold gearing up for her third film and actually receiving financial support? Perhaps because the beautiful lead actress is German Sandra Hüller who won best actress in 2006 for her film Requiem and this year appeared in a second Berlinale film entitled Über uns das All (Above Us only Sky) in the Panorama category.

Wikipedia says, “It is a slow film with little action and much silence (no music and little talking).” The amazing thing is that Wikipedia is actually describing Leopold’s first film from 2007, Wolfsbergen. At least she remains true to her style and why not, considering her Berlinale invitations and money available for the next film. If you have no time to see Brownian Movement, just watch a few particles swim in your coffee cup for the same effect. (Becky Tan)

The theaters below show films in their original language; click on the links for showtimes and ticket information.
Interviews with the stars, general film articles, and reports on press conferences and film festivals.
Subscribe to the free KinoCritics monthly email newsletter here.