Most romantic films fixate on courtship. The rest care about affairs and separation and—fingers crossed! —a happy ending. But Maren Ade's intimate drama, Everyone Else (title) follows a long-term boyfriend and girlfriend during through their worst (and possibly last) vacation. Smart, empathetic and wholly believable, this German film toured the festival circuit from Bangkok to Sao Paolo and is likely to make a name for itself with the arthouse crowd who trickles into its limited North American release.
Gitti (Birgit Minichmayr) and Chris (Lars Eidinger) seem bikini-ed and blissful at the start of their Sardinian vacation. She's a powerhouse: muscular, strong-legged, passionate and loud with shaggy, short hair and a wild grin. He's a thin, blonde, an artist, or really, an architect who draws buildings so elaborate they never get built. And she's mad about him, but right now he's focused on his future, on the design competitions he isn't winning and the cocky classmate Hans (Hans-Jochen Wagner) who is lapping him in the game of life—and just so happens to be on the same island with his gorgeous, doting pregnant wife, Sana (Nicole Marischka).
Though their relationship seems strong, it takes just two days for little awkwardnesses to throw it off. On an island where they have no friends, Gitti and Chris have nothing to distract them from fixating on each other but find ways to get distracted nonetheless, to this end Ade layers on small objects that take on big significances: a conservative dress Gitti only half likes, a heavy backpack, a bottle of champagne, a cheesy pop song, a glass bird. In just a few scenes, Ade draws their world so masterfully that we're right in their heads, wincing at every spoken, or unspoken, injury.
Everyone Else is structured in three acts, or power plays. In the first, Gitti drops careless insults. In the second, she races after Chris as he withdraws. In the third, she seizes control through destruction. It's an unsparing, vérité look at the damage people do when they're only focused on the damage being done to them. Along the way, there are two terrible dinner parties with Hans and Sana, who chatter away as though they're trying to be helpful, but tend to just make everything worse. Their glow makes Gitti and Chris feel like losers—even when they use their own magic stories to compete they fall flat. But throughout this patient mini-tragedy, we find them fascinating, and our only regret is that we can't keep following them to find out what happens next.
Distributor: Cinema Guild
Cast: Birgit Minichmayr, Lars Eidinger, Hans-Jochen Wagner and Nicole Marischka
Director/Screenwriter: Maren Ade
Producers: Mared Ade, Dirk G. Engelhardt and Janine Jackowski
Genre: Drama; German-language, subtitled
Running time: 119 min.
Release date: April 9 LA