With a father suffering from neurodegenerative disease, a young woman lives with her eight-year-old daughter. While struggling to secure a decent nursing home, she runs into an unavailable friend with whom she embarks on an affair.
You don't have to read many other reviews to appreciate that many people were incredibly moved by this film, but it didn't quite come together for me. I would readily grant that this is an incredibly realistic, unsentimental and light-touched portrayal of the myriad connections and complications that are immanent in every real-life family, and I praise it on that basis. But as a cinematic narrative over approximately two hours, it didn't seem to cohere. I don't think I'm the target audience for the "protagonist's father is dying" plotline that holds this movie together, and the film's tone towards the political cosplaying (the "politics lurking at the edge of the frame") felt highly-diluted at best.
Still, there's a rather witty insider joke about halfway through when Sandra's daughter is helping reshelve Georg's academic books into two parts: philosophy and fiction. Hannah Arendt goes into philosophy, of course, and Thomas Mann goes into fiction. The daughter then asks: "Kafka?" … and the film cuts to later in the day. It works (for me) as bone-dry middlebrow humour, and, as the book collection is an "extended metonymy for his life", it also demonstrates the impossibility of categorising our understanding of another human being. Or, as Brian Eggert writes in his review (which could also stand as a film's central thesis):
Life is about moving from one event to the next, one physical and mental state to another, not with clear lines of demarcation but with a constant state of passage.
ps. What's with including the music from Au Hasard Balthazar (1966)? That must be the 4th film I've heard of in the past six months that archly reference this landmark piece of cinema.