VALESKA GRISEBACH | GERMANY,AUSTRIA,BULGARIA | 2017 | 119 MIN | NR
One of the most talked-about films at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, Valeska Grisebach’s drama takes a quietly revolutionary approach to the familiar Western genre. Meinhard (Meinhard Neumann) fits the mold of a strong, silent type, but he’s not a cowboy. The grizzled loner has just joined a crew of German laborers hired to build a hydroelectric power plant in a remote region near the Bulgarian-Greek border, where the locals view the interlopers with suspicion, and sometimes outright hostility. As Meinhard works to gain the trust of the townspeople, he further strains his already fraught relationship with his boorish boss Vincent (Reinhardt Wetrek). Both contemplative and effortlessly dramatic, Western applies a cool, reserved touch to hot-blooded themes of sexual jealousy, xenophobia, and corrosive masculinity. Treading some of the same Eastern Europe-meets-Western Europe territory as last year’s Oscar nominee TONI ERDMANN (whose director, Maren Ade, is an executive producer), Western offers a fresh, subtly political vision of life in contemporary Europe even as it references age-old themes and archetypes.
Cast: Meinhard Neumann, Reinhardt Wetrek, Syuleyman Alilov Letifov, Veneta Fragnova
“Defies easy genre classifications at every turn. A subtle, awe-inspiring cross-cultural character portrait.” –Reverse Shot