© Wild Bunch Germany GmbH / Central Film Verleih GmbH

15 Jahre (15 Years)
Austria 2023

Opening 11 Jan 2024

Directed by: Chris Kraus
Writing credits: Chris Kraus
Principal actors: Hannah Herzsprung, Adele Neuhauser, Hassan Akkouch, Christian Friedel, Fjodor Kelling

Jenny von Leoben has already lived a full life; the child prodigy began performing on stage when most little girls were playing with dolls. Somewhere along the way, Jenny (Hannah Herzsprung) veered from concert pianist to street performer with Gimmiemore’s (Albrecht Schuch) group. Then she was convicted for murder. Falsely. Finally released from prison after fifteen years, she is currently at a halfway house, The Jesus Center, where her anger is palpable, clinging just below the surface together with her demons. Too often her self-loathing scorn hurls obscenities at anyone near her. Only in group therapy and with Frau Markowski’s (Adele Neuhauser) frank, practical and patient strength of will is Jenny restrained. Oftentimes misdirected, with regularity Wolke (Stefanie Reinsperger) bears the brunt of her vehement behavior since they are paired on outside work assignments that is the center’s source of income.

One such assignment is at the music conservatory Jenny knows all too well; now an instructor, Harry Mangold (Christian Friedel) hears her playing the piano and remembers her. To her shame. His kindness is endless; invited for dinner, his wife (Katharina Schüttler) takes everything in stride. There is this popular television talent contest; she is introduced to Omar Annan (Hassan Akkouch), a survivor and refugee and a singer, and a once-upon-a-time pianist. Jenny unceremoniously balks at performing with him. At the center of it all is Gimmiemore, now the fabulously, famous presenter of the show. They both know, but only one has a secret.

German writer-director Chris Kraus’s newest film, 15 Years, is a sequel to his award-winning Four Minutes (Vier Minuten, 2006). Normally this is a bonus, however Kraus’s follow-up film has one major flaw. Other than an early-on sequence about the child prodigy, Kraus omits important, necessary background information, i.e., nothing about what happens to Jenny in Four Minutes. Without understanding the “why” of Jenny’s actions the intensity of Herzsprung’s depiction defies evoking any empathy. Production values are good. The depth of the Jenny character’s recklessness, tempestuousness, and violence throughout the 143-minute film is a dispiriting, depressing experience. (Marinell Haegelin)

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