The members of an upper-middle-class German family are devastated by the suicide of the cherished 19-year-old scion (Cyril Sjostrom) but lack the capacity to process their pain. Comparisons to Robert Redford’s Ordinary People
(1980) are inevitable, but instead of turning to a menschliche Jewish shrink, the tightly wound mother (Corinna Harfouch) commissions a painter to create a portrait of her dead son and living daughter (Karoline Herfurth). The daughter derides the project as an exercise in ghoulish kitsch, but her sessions with the artist become an inquest into her family’s emotional pathologies; the painter, meanwhile, is trying to decipher his complicated sexual nature and work through the wreckage of his own past. Director Caroline Link (Nowhere in Africa
) eschews sentimentality, but her 2008 film, however well-acted, suffers somewhat from the same coolness and bloodlessness it purports to dissect. In German with subtitles. 129 min.
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