Opening 22 May 2014
Anna Martinetz’s first feature film is an adaptation of Arthur Schnitzler’s 1924 monologue-novel by the same name. It plays out entirely in the head of Else, a 19-year-old young woman from Vienna. Her monologue is only interrupted by short exchanges with family members and friends with whom she is spending time in an upscale resort. She receives a desperate note from her mother who urges her to ask a wealthy fellow guest, a Mr. von Dorsday, for a large sum of money needed to avoid Else’s father having to go to jail for defrauding money. As if this wasn’t an embarrassing enough request, Else soon finds herself tormented by the agonizing choice to either risk scandal and social ruin of her family, or accept the indecent proposal Dorsday offers her in exchange for the money.
The extreme inner turmoil Schnitzler so masterfully portrayed, sadly doesn’t get transported. Martinetz chose to cut all but a few monologues out and tried to replace them with visual- and sound effects. She came up with some interesting ideas, but they have been implemented too sparingly and therefore only add to the film being irritating and frustratingly mystifying. The setting has been modified to bridge the gap from the 1920s to now with choices that are questionable; the original language – a very formal old-fashioned Austrian-German – has been left in place. The film isn’t easy to categorize and even harder to rate; but it is intriguing enough to kindle interest in the book, which is well worth reading. (Carola A)