Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"Schäfer is excellent in the central role."

The idea that there's somebody who looks just like you who is going around doing bad things whilst you get the blame is an old one, explored in the likes of Dead Ringers, The Double and series three of Twin Peaks. It's also a staple of children's cartoons. Although myths about the doppelgänger go back centuries, modern interpretations generally treat the concept as too unlikely to take on directly, approaching it through surrealism or humour. Though Freddy/Eddy has elements of both, its power comes from its realism - from the intrusion of this bizarre notion into a very ordinary life.

Felix Schäfer is Freddy, once a successful painter, now trying to restart his life after being convicted of beating his wife. Anxious to keep things as amicable as he can and maintain a relationship with his young son, he has agreed to get help with his mental health, but there's a problem. Freddy doesn't believe that he did beat his wife. He's seen the evidence but he simply has no memory of it. Is he the victim of some monstrous miscarriage of justice? Is he losing his grip because of this experience? Feeling desperately alone, he seeks comfort in Eddy, the imaginary friend who supported him in childhood. Eddy, who looks just like him.

Schäfer is excellent in the central role, showing us a man who is practical and focused and wants to get on with his life but is also desperately vulnerable. He makes Freddy easy to care about and even empathise with, but keeps us in a place where we can't quite trust him, especially when events take a darker turn. Freddy is gradually growing close to neighbour Paula (Jessica Schwarz), a woman whose warmth and sense of fun might be just what he needs, but the Eddy persona whom we begin to see as well is more interested in Mizi (Greta Bohacek), Paula's 13-year-old daughter. A deeply disturbing seduction scene ups the ante; what is at stake is no longer just reputational damage, and the future begins to seem as dangerous as the past.

Fresh, naturalistic performances (with Alexander Finkenwirth as Freddy's half-brother David also worthy of notice) bring this story to life and make the strangest of events feel as if they could be happening next door - which also serves as a reminder that mental health problems are not part of a separate world. Markus Selikovsky's cinematography keeps colours muted yet natural and makes much of grey skies, echoing the ambiguity in the story, yet we are always provided with sufficient light to see what's going on - the challenge is in the interpretation.

Director Tini Tüllmann's background is in sound and she brings a hyper-alert qualiity to Freddy's auditory world, not resorting to jump scares but making each sound matter, giving us further layers of detail and further questions. Her confidence in handling such a finely balanced story is remarkable and pays off in a film that punches far above its weight. As André Øvredal did in last year's The Autopsy Of Jane Doe, she takes familiar genre tropes and makes them feel new again, restoring their capacity to induce fear. Reading the pitch for Freddy/Eddy, one might expect kitsch. What Tüllmann delivers is a highly impressive piece of cinema.

Reviewed on: 28 Aug 2017
Share this with others on...
Freddy/Eddy packshot
After being accused of beating up his wife, Freddy finds himself in the biggest crisis of his life. No one will believe that the real culprit is Eddy, who looks just like him.

Director: Tini Tüllmann

Writer: Tini Tüllmann

Starring: Felix Schäfer, Jessica Schwarz, Greta Bohacek, Alexander Finkenwirth, Katharina Schüttler.

Year: 2017

Runtime: 94 minutes

Country: Germany


Frightfest 2017

Search database: