My Sister Maria | Chicago Reader

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Viennese beauty Maria Schell enjoyed an international acting career in the 50s, working with such talents as Luchino Visconti (White Nights), Rene Clement (Gervaise), and Richard Brooks (The Brothers Karamazov). But her career never recovered from a five-year hiatus in the mid-60s, and this elegiac portrait by her younger and more successful brother, Maximilian Schell, finds the reclusive 76-year-old living in their family's old home in rural Austria—and in the past, courtesy of the videos she watches on one of her 11 television sets. Her profligate spending, aggravated by an increasingly tenuous grasp on reality, has recently forced her brother to liquidate part of his art collection to save her from ruin, and the film's rather stilted interviews and reenactments sometimes make it seem less a documentary than a valedictory performance. Maximilian stresses that Maria was an icon in postwar Germany, yet the saddest thing about her isolation and disappointment is that it's so common. In German, French, and Italian with subtitles. 94 min.

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