Opening 7 Jan 2010
Luisa hides away in an attic apartment to wait out the Nazi terror during World War II. Only her husband Karl knows where she is. He knocks his special knock; she lets him in and he opens his suitcase full of coffee, books and make-up (which makes her feel “normal”). Luisa encourages him to find a solution to this inhuman situation. Perhaps they can join Judith, a woman who is planning to escape to South America. Suddenly, Karl comes no longer. After several days of listening to noises from people in the apartments below and on the street, Luisa opens the door to find Judith, a flamboyant actress. She sleeps in Luisa’s bed; she takes a shower, although the sounds of water running could alarm the neighbors; an erotic tension hovers in the air and builds up to a lesbian affair. Luisa wants to keep Judith at her side forever, even if it means never leaving this hideaway should the opportunity arise.
The Room in the Mirror (translation of the title) raises many questions. I would expect to see this film in film festivals. It could also be an interesting play on stage with its one set and four-member cast: Luisa, Judith, Karl, and a “bass player/waiter” in a fantasy dreamlike appearance. Dreamlike could describe the entire film, because the longer it runs, the more it appears that Judith is a figment of Luisa’s imagination, conjured up after a long period of isolation. There is a strange scene of going through the looking glass like Alice in Wonderland; the two women skip around naked, although it’s pretty likely that the heat has been turned off; food supplies must have run out long ago. The film offers the possibility for long psychological discussions such as the meaning of the mirror, what is reality, how important is control, or for that matter, the arts such as music and literature. It doesn’t matter how you judge the film; it will definitely stick with you for a long time. This grew out of a group of theater students who were determined to start their own production company. It’s refreshing to see unfamiliar actors such as Kirsten Fischer, Maximilian Berger, Klaus Münster and Eva Wittenzellner. The youngest of the group – only 27-years-old – is the director Rudi Gaul, and this is his first film. I would like to see a sequel from the standpoint of Karl, the runaway husband. (Becky Tan)