Yella

"Good"

Yella Review


Perhaps characteristic of many a debut feature, German filmmaker Christian Petzold's uneasy yet promising Yella feels tied to the centric image of the nerve-wracked heroine who gives it its title. Wide-eyed and coiled, Yella (Nina Hoss) is first seen in the film's opening measures on a train heading home. She is present for nearly every scene that precedes this initial, alluring moment. The lady leaves the train and immediately begins to be accosted by a man, a man who obviously knows her intimately but whose identity we do not yet know

Much of Petzold's seduction, which is held consistently until the film's rote final moments, lies in the fact that we are rarely completely aware of the entanglements and deep emotional tides that run under each scene and inside each character. That we eventually discover that this man is Yella's unhinged ex-husband (Hinnerk Schönemann) is expected, but the way it is revealed shows a patience and assurance that belies both the filmmaker's age and the decisions he makes at the very end of his film.

After regrettably allowing her ex to give her a ride to the train station, Yella ends up on the side of the river next to her unconscious (dead?) ex, his car at the bottom of the tributary. Making her way to Hanover for a new job and a fresh start, the heroine arrives and finds the company she was hired by is being dismantled and emptied. The director, who wrote the screenplay with casting director Simone Bär, gives much of the dialogue to other characters, relegating much of Hoss' performance to poise and physicality. It is through only the slightest flicker of the eye that she meets Phillip, a business consultant who asks her to help him with a few presentations after he catches her staring at his spreadsheet.

The relationship between Yella and Phillip is peculiar. There's an obvious tension from the outset but there's also a sense of constant dread, evoked both by the score and by Petzold and cinematographer Hans Fromm's ethereal mis-en-scene. Phillip is played by the excellent Devid Striesow, who you probably remember as the mangiest of the Nazi hierarchy in last year's The Counterfeiters. Striesow has a knack for playing with space, somehow blending into Petzold's scheme without rendering his performance innocuous. The fact that Hoss and Striesow can both conjure such unassuming drama is a large part of why Petzold's film so continuously holds the viewer spellbound.

The twist ending that softens the blow of this otherwise unique and atmospheric work is not for me to ruin, but it should be said that it shows a chink in the filmmaker's armor. Yella would not be a great film even without the buffoonish ending, but it would be a daring one. The road Petzold eventually chooses for Yella, and Phillip to a lesser extent, comes easily and cheapens the hushed sentiments the film had clearly and beautifully voiced beforehand. It also shows a common thread that Petzold shares with many other debut filmmakers: a hesitancy in ambition.



Yella

Facts and Figures

Run time: 89 mins

In Theaters: Friday 16th May 2008

Budget: $30M

Distributed by: The Cinema Guild

Production compaines: Schramm Film Koerner & Weber, Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF), ARTE, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg GmbH

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Fresh: 42 Rotten: 10

IMDB: 6.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Christian Petzold

Producer: Florian Koerner von Gustorf

Starring: Nina Hoss as Yella, as Philipp, Hinnerk Schönemann as Ben, Burghart Klaußner as Dr. Gunthen, Barbara Auer as Barbara Gunthen, Wanja Mues as Sprenger, as Yellas Vater, Michael Wittenborn as Dr. Schmidt-Ott, Martin Brambach as Dr. Fritz, Joachim Nimtz as Prietzel, Selin Bademsoy as Dr. Gunthens Tochter, Peter Benedict as Friedrichs Anwalt

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The kill-or-die scenario that this movie hinges on isn't something new; it's been used in...

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

With the more dumbed-down title Fast & Furious 8 outside of North America, this overcrowded...

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

British writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea) is an expert at digging beneath the...

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

Julian Barnes' Booker Prize-winning novel is adapted into a remarkably intelligent, gently involving film anchored...

The Boss Baby Movie Review

The Boss Baby Movie Review

There isn't a lot of subtlety in this madcap animated comedy, which is more aimed...

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

After the latest incarnation of Dredd, director Pete Travis shifts gears drastically for this complex...

Advertisement
Going in Style Movie Review

Going in Style Movie Review

This is only technically a remake of the iconic 1979 film starring movie icons George...

Graduation Movie Review

Graduation Movie Review

Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) recounts another staggeringly detailed...

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

This sci-fi thriller is so visually stunning that it deserves to be mentioned in the...

Free Fire Movie Review

Free Fire Movie Review

Basically a 90-minute shoot-out, there isn't a lot to this movie. British filmmaker Ben Wheatley...

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.