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Few recent films have left me feeling more conflicted than Valeska Grisebach's second feature (2006), which is sensitive, moving, accomplished in its extraordinary direction of nonprofessional actors but also a little bogus. A gentle, happily married metalworker in a tiny village goes away for a weekend to train as a volunteer fireman and has a drunken fling with a waitress, which leads to tragic consequences. The most telling points in this story register in the faces rather than the dialogue, but it's conceived like a folk ballad and feels self-conscious in some of its plot developments and in its neo-Brechtian finale. In German with subtitles. 88 min.

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