Antek Liebmann leaves his home in Germany and rents a cottage in an idyllic French town. While he seems to have a few problems, he begins build a new life for himself, befriending a local woman, starting a relationship with a cute local guy and getting a job at an antique/second-hand shop. However, he has trouble sleeping and freaks out when he hears a hunter’s gunshot in the woods. Then a visit from a friend from Germany reveals why he left his old life behind and why he’s so troubled.
In cinema, there’s a fine line between someone seeming intriguingly troubled, and someone who just comes across as boring. And that’s where Liebmann’s problems lie. While there are periodic hints as to the fact there’s mystery around why Antek is the way he is, for much of the time it could just as easily be the problem that he’s slightly rude and dull. Too often the films tips from broodingly attempting to keep to us hooked to find out more about the main character, and just making him seem pretty tedious. Add in some slightly jarring moments of pretentious artsiness and a sequence of whimsy that seems to fall out of nowhere, and it’s a film that definitely tries hard, but will test many people’s patience.
Things certainly pick up after about two-thirds of the way through, when we discover more about why Antek has left Germany. The reason for his troubles become clearer and he begins to confront the fact he may have been stringing his female friends along to think there could be something romantic happening, and whether he wants a relationship or not with the guy. However, it’s not quite enough.
That’s partly because it’s one of a long list of films where it’s difficult to tell why people seem to swarm around someone who appears to give so little back or have that much interest in them. Of course, the narrative would shut down if everyone ignored him, but there’s so little to hang onto initially with Antek that it loses the chance to make you care or understand.
The performances are pretty good though, and while Godehard Giese could perhaps have done with injecting a little more magnetism into Antek to ensure he seemed troubled rather than stand-offish, he and the rest of the cast are largely very good. It also looks extremely nice. However, that’s not quite enough to paper over the movie’s shortcomings.
Overall Verdict: While it has some great moments and there’s a charm about Liebmann, it undermines itself by initially making the central character seem pretty dull and a tad annoying.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac