The Ordinaries

****

Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

The Ordinaries
"Dazzles from the opening song and dance number to the final credits." | Photo: Courtesy of KVIFF

Refreshing, ingenious, and unrelentingly inventive, Sophie Linnenbaum’s début feature displays a dazzling command of her material, which mixes political satire and what is described as a parallel cinematic world.

You can, of course, accuse it of being over-contrived but it bursts on the screen with all the originality of Amelie and dazzles from the opening song and dance number to the final credits.

The world that Linnenbaum reveals consists of Main Characters and Supporting Characters ruled over the menacing Institute whose denizens ensure that everyone stays in their place.

A wide-eyed Fine Sendel plays Paula Feinmann, a Supporting Character living with her perpetually anxious mother (June Böwe) who dreams of becoming a Main Character. At the same she is seeking out her long-lost father who was a Main Character but has mysteriously has disappeared without a trace.

She signs up with a Main Character School to help her make the transition where she hangs out with her loyal friend Hannah (Sira Fall).

The technical trickery of split screens and frenetic editing add to the surreal atmosphere. Some of it has all the colour and vibrancy of an MGM musical from the Fifties (think Doris Day or Judy Garland), especially in the Main Character surroundings, while the also rans are all washed out pastels, beige and austere functionality.

Beneath the zippy atmosphere is a fairly serious political critique of repression and social exclusion and racism which is not to be under-estimated. The fusion of all these elements signifies a rare directorial ability to tread a delicate tightrope.

Reviewed on: 03 Jul 2022
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The Ordinaries packshot
Paula is a supporting role aspiring to become a main character. Yet, just before her final exams, her emotive music generator suddenly starts playing up, which presents a major problem for her. No starring role can survive without a heartrending accompaniment from the strings.

Director: Sophie Linnenbaum

Year: 2021

Runtime: 120 minutes

Country: Germany

Festivals:

Karlovy 2022

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