German director Ade's 'Everyone Else' (or 'All the Others' -- 'Alle Anderen') is very much a women's picture -- in the very most positive sense.. Her story might be the kind Jane Austen would write if she lived today, when a young couple must learn about each other by living together -- but with the old problem of weighing themselves and their values against other people's and theirs. Ade focuses on the relationship between a young architect and his publicity agent girlfriend as they think about how to be together as a couple while spending the summer at his parents' villa on the island of Sardinia. Wonderfully natural acting by the two principals as well as action that shows off the mercurial twists in man-woman roles through day-to-day events make this film continually interesting to watch even though it lacks big dramatic payoffs. But when the calibration is subtle, as with Jane Austen, little matters like buying a dress or deciding what to carry on a hike become matters from which much is to be learned.
Gitti (Birgit Minichmayr) and Chris (Lars Eidinger) seem to have a lot of fun together. Gitti shows her eccentricity when she tells the little daughter of visiting friends to be up front if she doesn't like her. She even lets the girl pretend to shoot her, then does a mock death and falls into the pool. Chris seems a little insecure about himself; his talent as an architect has yet to pay off; he's uncertain about a competition he's entered, and Gitti is worried that he's a little wimpy. Perhaps to be more assertive, he insists they spend time with his fellow architect Hans (Hans-Jochen Wagner) and pregnant wife Sana (Nicole Marischka), whom he'd initially avoided, switching gears and now considering them as potential role models. Eventually Chris acknowledges this wasn't such a good idea; that he and Gitti are happier and better off being who they are. Though there's a somewhat failed hiking expedition, and Chris (off-camera) meets with a promising local client and his future suddenly brightens up, it's primarily the couple's weighing themselves against the seemingly more fortunate pair that embodies the film's life lesson.
The quirky redhead Gitti, given to fits of laughing, has insecurities too. She doesn't like it when she asks Chris if he loves her and he answers only by kissing her. She's continually afraid he may stop loving her. Both of them in fact are in love and grateful that they ever met. This is unusual in being about a happy couple, who are not headed toward tragedy or betrayal or other dramas. But the screenplay is nothing if not proof that "happy" isn't any more a fixed reality than "confident" or "grown-up." There isn't much more to the action than that, but it's all in the details as Ade spins out one scene after another in which Eidinger and Minichmayr run through a range of emotions together.
Some male viewers of this two-hour film find it self-indulgent and interminable. There's little doubt that the second evening spent with Hans and Sana doesn't have to be allowed to run so long to make clear they're bores, and the film could have done with some trimming. It also seems that Gitti's moodiness is allowed to go too far; you begin to wonder if she may need help. However when one thinks of how natural and real the two actors are throughout, it's impossible not to conclude that Ade is doing something right, and has trod familiar paths but avoided cliché. She just needs to develop more faith in the value of the cutting room.
Seen as part of the New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center 2009.
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