Reto Salimbeni started his directorial career making commercials, winning numerous awards for his efforts for clients such as Nike, Pepsi and Panasonic. It is, however, his portrayal of the human character and the emotions we face that are relevant to One Way - an intense film depicting deceit, betrayal, jealousy and, overall, the darker side of humanity.

It takes courage to approach a matter such as rape, and Salimbeni certainly doesn’t pull any punches, thrusting us into the action in the opening scene as a young woman is chased by a group of men before being captured and violated. She is, however, rescued by a fantasy figure in the guise of a corporal (Michael Clarke Duncan) who ‘deals with’ the attackers. This unnerving deliberate contrast between the peaceful backdrop and the hideous crime committed sets the tone for the rest of the film.

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After a hectic opening, the pace slows, as a dreamy melody kicks in and the aerial establishing shot hones in on a silver Aston Martin pulling up to a wealthy looking house and we are introduced to our leading man – Eddie Shneider (Til Schweiger, who co-directs) a confident looking man in a well tailored suit. We follow Ed through the intricate, character driven-plot as his infidelity catches up with him in the form of blackmail from his future brother-in-law Anthony (Sebastien Roberts), who possess evidence of Ed's disloyalty to his sister. In a bid to pave the way for marriage, this prevents him from testifying for his best friend Angelina (Lauren Lee Smith) the rape victim in a brutal, no-holds barred scene which would make even the most desensitised viewer a bit uneasy.

The plot is complex, and too many of the characters are integral to the story, which doesn’t allow much scope for in-depth character development. Anthony commits the rape after only being on screen in a few scenes, so we don’t get a sense of the potential for evil, and it is only after this his character seems to take form. Schweiger fails to convince in vital scenes and is a lot more comfortable portraying Ed’s charming, charismatic side than when he is facing adversity. He also lacks chemistry with his on screen future wife Judy (Stefanie von Pfetten) only really showing any compassion towards her in the opening scenes. In addition, some of the court scenes could have been shortened, as you feel Salimbeni wants to portray the personal effects of these crimes, and how people react and seek redemption, rather than the legal side of things.

While the acting is below par at times, each character does have moments of admirable assurance, just about holding the belief of the viewer and keeping us in touch with the emotional undertones. Eric Roberts delivers an extremely authentic (albeit a cameo) performance as Lawyer Nick Swell, while Sebastien Roberts makes Anthony chilling enough to make you believe he is capable of such indecency, which is, of course, crucial to the plot. Again though, despite doing all she can with the script, Angelina has minimal screen time for such an important part of the films outcome, meaning we don’t connect to her as much as we could.

Despite its flaws, you have to give credit to the filmmaker for touching on the sensitive subject without tiptoeing around the main issues. There are a few scenes which are difficult to watch, meaning the film stays in your mind for quite a while after the credits rolled. Somehow these scenes are warranted in a tale of psychological and psychical torture. Although being a reasonably low budget German production, the visuals are stylish and encapsulate the sense of style and wealth of the characters. As hard-hitting as the film is, Salimbeni breaks up these moments with a subtle shots of the city skyline, again framed in a very classy way.

Overall this is a film which bravely takes on an extremely sensitive issue, and doesn’t do it an injustice. Reto Salimbeni shows promise that there is more to come as he attempts to portray intense emotion and moral dilemmas in an admirable way. Rather than going one way, up or down, this film feels like it’s stuck in the middle.

Reviewed on: 19 Nov 2008
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Intense thriller about a man blackmailed into providing a false alibi against a rape victim in order to save his career and relationship.
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Director: Reto Salimbeni, Til Schweiger

Writer: Reto Salimbeni

Starring: Til Schweiger, Sebastien Roberts, Lauren Lee Smith, Stefanie von Pfetten, Art Hindle, Micheal Clark Duncan, Eric Roberts

Year: 2006

Runtime: 116 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: Germany


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