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All of a Sudden

In her first German language picture Asli Özge paints a claustrophobic picture of small town society: when junior banker Karsten makes a mistake and is consequently charged with “nonassistance to a person in danger”, his wife leaves him, his ...


Young banker Karsten has a party while his girlfriend is out of town and the last one remaining in his apartment is a woman named Anna. When the young woman has a medical emergency Karsten doesn’t call the ambulance but walks to the clinic at the corner instead. Anna is dead when he returns and Karsten is taken to court for failure to render assistance. Karsten’s girlfriend leaves him, his company demotes his, his friends distance themselves, and his parents manipulate in the background. When it comes to light that Anna was married and that she comes from a Russian-German family Karsten’s father immediately worries about “these people.” Nothing is lurking beneath the bourgeois façade in AUF EINMAL, the façade itself is filled with xenophobia, snobbery, lies, and silence.
Turkish director Asli Ösge’s first German-speaking film is a claustrophobic middle-class profile and small town drama. AUF EINMAL is set in Altena in Sauerland, a small town surrounded by oppressive mountains that works like a closed system while also located close enough to an urban population to let the urban hipness seep into the young small town managers. The background determines the codes, the codes determine status, and the status is all that matters in these closed societies. Özge’s strength here, like in her last film LIFELONG, is creating spaces, backgrounds, and atmospheres that reveal the social structures,. Her figures always seemed trapped in the images. Walls, windows, hedges, and mountains keep creating a second frame around the people. When Karsten is demoted it means moving to a dimly lit room with a blocked view.
The actors don’t have it easy in this constellation where there is barely any air to breathe. The dialogue seem a bit too literary and sometimes pedagogic: what the images show is all too often repeated in words. But the permanently tense, wooden game is also warranted: there is no relaxed language in a society of complete restraint. Relationships are dealt with like work contracts: motivation, image, and returns have to fit. Karsten’s attempt to get out of this strict universe – by having sex with a stranger with the girlfriend not finding out – and his pathetic attempt to hide it doesn’t just reveal his lack of character but also leads to the question of how character can even be formed in an environment such as this.

Tom Dorow

Translation: Elinor Lewy


Original title: All of a Sudden
Deutschland/Frankreich/Niederlande 2016, 112 min
Genre: Drama
Director: Asli Özge
Author: Asli Özge
DOP: Emre Erkmen
Montage: Muriel Breton, Asli Özge
Distributor: MFA+ FilmDistribution
Cast: Julia Jentsch, Hanns Zischler, Sebastian Hülk, Luise Heyer, Sascha Alexander Geršak
FSK: 12
Release: 06.10.2016




  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles

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