Bungalow | Chicago Reader


Considered a quintessential work of the Berlin School movement, the subtly provocative debut feature (2002) of German writer-director Ulrich Köhler depicts several days in the life of a young soldier, Paul (Lennie Burmeister, in a phenomenal performance), after he goes AWOL from the army to hide out at his parents’ countryside bungalow. There he finds that his older brother, Max (Devid Striesow), and his Danish girlfriend, Lene (Trine Dyrholm), have also come to stay. Paul develops an obsession with Lene, an attractive actress who’s similarly intrigued by the peculiar wastrel. He then begins acting more and more erratically, which gives this stony comedy its most wryly humorous moments; as a result, his alienation from those around him and society at large becomes more pronounced. Likewise, things become more ambiguous as the film progresses, to us and even to the characters themselves. It’s pure disaffection—with country, home, and self—writ large but still veiled; is it madness or clarity that Paul is experiencing? It’s an auspicious debut, one that should inspire viewers to seek out Köhler’s subsequent features (Sleeping Sickness, In My Room, et al.). In German, Danish, and English with subtitles.


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