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Return to Montauk

Max (Stellan Skarsgard) is an overconfident writer with a wife, Clara, who loves and admires him. He meets his old flame Rebecca (Nina Hoss) during a stay in New York.

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Volker Schlöndorff's long career is mostly filled with literary adaptations, and his dedication to Max Frisch at the end of his newest film makes clear that RETURN TO MONTAUK belongs to the genre. In MONTAUK, Frisch processes an affair set in Montauk, a city that lies between New York and Long Island. When a writer called Max, played by Stellan Skarsgard, has an affair there, the connection seems clear. But it’s not that simple, or rather, that’s not all. Frisch’s “Montauk” had biographical roots, but it was mostly written as a way to reflect more generally on relationships, desires, and deceit. Schlöndorff’s film begins in reality but it doesn’t end there.

Max the author seems like a mixture between Frisch, a fictional character, and Schlöndorff himself as the director stated he was working through events in his own life. Knowing this makes Max’s ambivalence even more noteworthy. The man thinks first and foremost about himself which makes him unsympathetic yet realistic and might explain the cold reception it received in its premiere at the Berlinale. RETURN TO MONTAUK is in no way modern or ground-breaking; it is classic auteur cinema that comes across as conservative or confident, depending on the perspective, with an excellent ensemble which is par for the course for Schlöndorff.

Michael Meyns

Translation: Elinor Lewy

Credits

Deutschland/Frankreich 2017, 105 Min. min
Genre: Drama, Love Stories
Director: Volker Schlöndorff
Author: Volker Schlöndorff
DOP: Jérôme Alméras
Montage: Hervé Schneid
Distributor: Wild Bunch
Cast: Bronagh Gallagher, Stellan Skarsgård, Nina Hoss, Niels Arestrup, Robert Seeliger
FSK: oA
Release: 11.05.2017

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