Import Export | Chicago Reader

Import Export

In this 2007 drama, Austrian despair monger Ulrich Seidl (Dog Days, Jesus, You Know) cuts between two tales of young adults sinking deeper into the tar pit of poverty. The “import” is a tenderhearted Ukrainian nurse (Ekateryna Rak) who arrives in Vienna looking for decent-paying work but winds up cleaning a geriatric ward. (The gumming, gibbering patients are all real, and presumably worked for scale.) The “export” is an unemployed Viennese youth (Paul Hofmann) who suffers various indignities while accompanying his filthy-minded stepfather on a trip to install vending machines in the Ukraine. Seidl's drab, straight-ahead long shots have a narcotic pull that keeps this absorbing throughout its 135 minutes, but the final image—a bedridden crone mindlessly chirping, “Death! Death! Death!”—is typical of the movie's knee-jerk grimness. In English and subtitled German, Russian, and Slovak.

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