By Robert Koehler
German director Christoph Hochhausler–whose name Thierry Fremaux struggled with in the introduction seen here–disappoints with his Un Certain Regard film, Under the City. It’s the first misstep in one of the most interesting careers among those filmmakers which have been (correctly in Hochhausler’s case) associated with the Berlin School. But Under the City represents a retreat, I think, into the kind of bland, bloodless drama which dominated German cinema a decade ago. The depiction of corporate life in Frankfurt, the elements of a (thoroughly unmotivated) affair and a mechanical dramatic structure creates a curiously vacuous experience.
Hochhausler’s collegue, director Benjamin Heisenberg, is having a far better 2010 with his sharply executed The Robber, a film with a similar coolness to Under the City, but which more successfully finds the right formal means for its fundamentally existentialist character.