Opening 5 Feb 2009
Architect Georg Winter (Josef Bierbichler) lives in Hamburg with his wife Eva and two grown children. The four of them drive to a small village in Austrian Tirol for the funeral of Georg’s mother. They stay in the house and meet the locals, including Hannah and her son Alex, who remember Georg. Obviously, he has not visited his mother often. An avalanche causes them to extend their visit long enough for the family to learn Georg’s secrets, one of which is made public by the reading of the mother’s will (although you will have guessed it yourself by now). This family seems close: always touching, playing naked in the snow, etc., but it is an outward, physical closeness. Of their inner feelings they reveal little; inside they struggle to share their feelings; they are cold like the overall winter atmosphere of snow and rain which closes in on Georg, who makes a final, important decision.
The actors are excellent, the pace well thought out. I, personally, appreciated the reality of the film, having just left Hamburg for my own small village in another country to bury my mother, and visit her overfull house and see old friends, although I didn’t have any ghosts in the closet worth mentioning. I, as well as all my native-German speaking colleagues, agreed that the Austrian dialect was difficult to understand, and we would have appreciated subtitles in any language. (Becky Tan)