Emily Atef’s sensual adaptation of Daniela Krien’s novel, set shortly after the fall of the Wall, follows 19-year-old Maria from an East German village over the course of one summer. While her boyfriend Johannes is an aspiring photographer itching to leave for art school in the West, Maria is currently without aspiration but embodies a self-possessed sensibility, sharing daily farm chores with her boyfriend’s mother but mostly spending time at home with her head in her poetry and philosophy books.
Away from the current zeitgeist and into an immersive universe of its own.
Forbidden love soon arrives by way of 40-year-old Henner, a brooding farmer known throughout the village but exuding a sense of mystery that draws Maria in. What follows are transformations: childhood to womanhood, family relationships broken by history and change in a country at large. Like all the best erotism in film, the exploration of sexual desire happens both in on-screen obsession and off-screen imagination.
In the current climate, the flick could be debated across generational divides for its age-gap relationship power dynamics; refreshingly, Atef isn’t interested in partaking in the politics of now, instead giving agency to the story and its characters, with 1990s rural East Germany lending a hand in taking the viewer away from the current zeitgeist and into an immersive universe of its own.
Someday We’ll Tell Each Other Everything is an enthralling film with a great cast, striking score and glistening film grain. It can feel tiresome at times; for example, with Maria’s lack of inner depth or with side narratives opened and discarded that, for its runtime, had little space to be addressed. But there’s no denying Atef has achieved a tricky feat here, and done so with drama, elegance and style.
- Starts April 13, with Marlene Burow and Felix Kramer. D: Emily Atef.