REVIEW: Alle Anderen [Everyone Else] [2010]

“Do you hate me sometimes?”

The problem with humanity is that our lives, our happiness, our love can never be enough. Like the title of Maren Ade’s film, we worry too much about Alle Anderen [Everyone Else], forgetting how we may already have what we need. Pressure is constantly weighed down as biological clocks tick, windows for dream jobs or business opportunities close, and better options seemingly arrive from all angles to make us question if where we are is truly where we want to be. We want more as soon as everything we need comes into focus; we fear the unknown, ever scared the good times won’t last, and instead of talking things through we sabotage, ruin, or take for granted. Commitment is a rough road to travel in both the personal and professional spheres of life, but what we all must hold onto is the unwavering fact that to traverse it correctly, we must first understand, appreciate, and accept ourselves for who we are. Once you begin to compromise for any reason, you’ve buckled to societal conventions or to an image held higher their your own, negating any autonomy or intrigue you possessed.

Chris and Gitti are the perfect couple—two disparate souls who fit together seamlessly, complementing each other with a palpable joy between them. Our introduction is a bit misleading, though, causing us as viewers to assume they are married with two children, living in a gorgeous house, and completely happy. Shortly thereafter, however, Chris’s sister comes to collect her kids and leave the Sardinian villa to the couple so they can enjoy a Mediterranean vacation. The brother gives back his nephew, smiling sheepishly as Carina N. Wiese, (her character has no name, listed simply as ‘Sister of Chris’), says the image of fatherhood suits him and Gitti’s trouble with young Rebecca (Paula Hartmann) come out as she questions why the girl dislikes her. The free-spirit, wild child this German is, she decides to teach the girl how to say, ‘I hate you’, ‘I loathe you’, and ‘Don’t speak to me ever again’, before then having her shoot an imagined bullet towards her chest, launching Gitti into the pool, all while the child’s mother looks on. Chris laughs at the exchange, a wonder in his eyes at his girlfriend’s spontaneity. It’s a look we expect to remain throughout the film.

But then the story progresses and we learn more about this early-thirtyish couple looking for quiet solitude. Chris (Lars Eidinger) is a practical soul who believes he’s too boring for his girlfriend. Always over-analyzing situations, he cannot decide on his next architectural job, never confident to think he is truly as good as others tell him. The indecision isn’t specific to his work, however, and his commitment-phobia also trickles down into his relationship. Answering every utterance of ‘I love you’ from Gitti (Birgit Minichmayr) with a rapturous kiss and physical contact, he can say how happy she makes him, but can’t find the strength to return those three all-important words. In his mind he has to jump out a window and fly away to surprise this woman while she simple exists and never ceases to amaze in her compassion, belief, and love for him. Those unconventionalities scare her much like his conventionality does him, though, watching women pass and wondering how perfect they’d be for Chris. To Gitti, being herself seems too much and she shares the fact she’d become anyone else so long as she won’t lose her love.

We all have such insecurities, especially in matters of relationships. Why would we ever be good enough for the person we love? What did we ever do to deserve them? We try so hard to talk about the reasons we shouldn’t be in great situations instead of allowing the simple fact we are to manifest. Maybe we should remember the reasons we do merit our significant other, accepting the real us as not only being natural and true, but also desired. All Chris and Gitti’s faults, whether real or imagined, don’t seem to matter at first. They speak about them, but never let them rule their actions. Life on vacation is about home cooked meals, moments of levity springing forth unceasingly, and an authentic view of unquenchable yearning. Only lovers could turn a small piece of ginger root into a penis called Schnappi, hide like children at the supermarket from the supposed bore Hans, or dance with equal amounts of sexuality and humor to old, sentimental music Chris’s mother has left on the hi-fi. On their island, they are invincible, ignoring doubts and pushing through struggles to end up in bed, in love, and without a care in the world for fame, fortune, or outside affirmation.

Isolated islands unfortunately don’t exist and, no matter how hard they try, Hans (Hans-Jochen Wagner) and his wife Sana (Nicole Marischka) can’t be avoided forever. Here is a couple who almost perfectly reflect the youngsters; he the unabashed partier, unafraid to speak his mind and she the more subdued professional, a clothing designer to match his architect, making them very successful. Chris and Gitti both despise and long for what they are. This is the golden standard society believes we should strive for; this is the goal our leads fear they may never achieve. It changes them to their core, creating a rift in their seemingly impenetrable unity. Chris begins to alter his ambitions, attitude, and actions to copy this man he recently tried so hard to duck, but now wants so much to be exactly like—a metamorphosis to silence the voices in his head forcing him to be someone the world can believe in. And while he looks to everyone else, Gitti looks at only one person—him. Willing to compromise her own essence, she begins to dress, act, and be perceived as a cultured, tame woman like Sana. This angst-riddled pair dismantles themselves and destroys that which they loved about each other.

Ade has crafted a film that will punch you in the gut as you recognize yourselves in the characters. We live our whole lives to stand apart and be different only to find we’ll buckle under the pressure once popularity is threatened. So often we worry about those with no clear impact in our lives while forgetting those we’ve been sharing our existence with. Both Minichmayr and Eidinger embody their roles completely, portraying the love and the frustration. In a world where instant gratification is a possibility and necessity, the thirties have become the new mid-life crisis. It’s a time where a career or a home must be firmly entrenched—to have neither is abject failure. But once we begin to walk the line between, we find we lose the chance at gaining either. Our ideals become compromised and we start to test each other vindictively and without remorse in order to find the truth. The one who loved changes identity to trap her man into finally returning her ‘I love you’. But once those words are said, they cannot be taken back. Alle Anderen shows that whom we love isn’t always what he/she loves about him/herself. It’s a painful revelation that never ends. We can forgive and forget—we almost have to—but nothing is ever perfect.

Alle Anderen [Everyone Else] 8/10 | ★ ★ ★

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