SCREEN DIARY: WORLD BEYOND MY MIND at Raindance 2019
We’d hoped to follow the full QUEER strand at this year’s Raindance but schedules got in the way, so we were delighted to just see Eibe Maleen Krebs’s beautiful 2018 chamber piece, WORLD BEYOND MY MIND. Here’s our writeup.
By RADIANT CIRCUS
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WORLD BEYOND MY MIND aka Draußen in Meinem Kopf
d. Eibe Maleen Krebs, 2018 (German, 99 mins)
We love a chamber piece. Maybe it’s something about constraining the limitless potential of cinema to one setting, of divining new meaning out of every shot, every frame. Perhaps it’s the inevitable claustrophobia that ensues, heightening the dramatic experience. But it’s also about the precise thematic focus it can draw. Eibe Maleen Krebs’s WORLD BEYOND MY MIND uses its physical constraints to ask profound questions, about whether life should be a choice and what we do with desire at life’s end.
Young Christoph (Nils Hohenhövel) is a volunteer providing end of life care for Sven (Samuel Koch), an understandably bitter and occasionally cruel guy now dying from muscular dystrophy. We spend the entire film in Sven’s room at a hospice, surrounded by his belongings, only getting rare glimpses of snow falling out of the window, a broader vista that is narrated but never seen. Devoid of family, Sven is left with the kind of friends that make sense when options are few and ‘loyalty’ levers its own rewards. He has no appetite for more.
Sven is both push and pull, striking out as he seeks to shut down whilst Christoph is only just learning to live in his own skin, uncertain of direction. When the film reveals Sven’s hidden desires, life’s unexpected kinks fire a lightning bolt of danger into their routine, steering the film down an unconventionally queer path. To the film’s strength, their developing relationship is far more ambiguous than these tantalising titbits would suggest, despite being examined in near-constant close-up.
The drama of the room is further amplified by two strong directorial choices. First off, precisely rationed and carefully controlled injections of chaos reanimate the potentially atrophied space. Whether it’s an ill-advised party night, the ever-present alcoholism of a lifelong friendship (Larry, Lars Rudolph – a peculiar snake in this strange Eden…), the arguments that erupt with explosive physicality, or the startling appearance of some uninvited seasonal guests, the rigours of the room are tested to their limits but never shattered.
The second formal choice is a stunning sound design that crisply presents each fold of a bedsheet, wrinkle of a plastic bag and snap of a clip on Sven’s sleeping mask, as if these are the only sounds in his universe. They electrify the confined space, crackling with energy despite Sven’s accelerating stillness. He can also dramatically re-order his world with the music he has Christoph play from an extensive CD collection – “I’ve got to keep you busy somehow”. Bach dominates – ‘Come Sweet Death’ – adding a sacred sense of unstoppable ritual. When Christoph sneaks in a CD of his own, the explosion of sound dramatically reboots their near-broken relationship.
Inspired by a true story, Eibe Maleen Krebs’s film has a profound structural beauty, somehow reminiscent of Bill Viola’s MARTYRS installed in St Paul’s Cathedral. Crisp, formal decisions create the architecture for consideration of life’s biggest concerns, whilst life itself comes through excellent performances from both leads and a supporting cast that refreshes the mix without distracting focus.
With friends like Larry…
RAINDANCE FILM FESTIVAL
The 27th Raindance Film Festival screens at Vue West End & Vue Piccadilly (18 to 29 SEP 2019).
Web raindance.org | Instagram @raindancefilmfestival | Twitter @Raindance
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