By Sascha Krieger
Schwesterlein (Competition / Switzerland / Directors: Stéphanie Chuat, Véronique Reymond)
Sven is a successful theatre actor suffering from leucaemia, his sister Lisa a theatre author on hiatus devoted to her twin brother. Filmed with many of Berlin’s Schaubühne theatre’s actors including their artistic director, partly on the theatre’s premises, the film’s glimpses into the mechanics of the theatre industry ate among its better moments. The style is the usual German realism, softly lit clear images drenched in a pale light, the camera calm yet without much distance. As Sven’s condition worsens conflicts emerge, especially in Lisa’s marriage, enacted in a more theatre style obviousness. Everything is theatre: from Lars Eidinger’s vain suffering to Nina Hoss‘ stubborn outbursts of despair. The fine cast always overacts a little, as does the screenplay which embraces relationship stereotypes while shying away from really following the siblings‘ relationship towards the more symbiotic and dangerous. While the surface is all drama, underneath it is relatively little substance. Emotions and conflicts are derived and acted out, true existential fear remains largely absent, most notably in Eidinger’s self-indulgent performance. Only near the end, Hoss slightly lets down her guard, revealing a hint at what the film otherwise just describes. But the face soon returns to its controlled expressiveness. All the world’s a stage as Shakespeare wrote, unfortunately, here it isn’t anything else.