[Metroactive Movies]

[ Movies Index | Show Times | Santa Cruz | Metroactive Home | Archives ]

Revolutionary Sweethearts: Stipe Erceg, Daniel Brühl and Julia Jentsch glimpse utopia just beyond your left shoulder.

Children of the Revolution

A trio of young Germans won't get fooled again in 'The Edukators'

By Bill Forman

The disillusioned German youth who light up the screen in director Hans Weingartner's brilliant new film, The Edukators, are, by most current definitions, terrorists. True, as we are introduced to them in the film's opening scenes, the only violence in which they're engaging is purely psychological: They break into the homes of yacht club members, rearrange their furniture into precarious piles (impractical from a utilitarian standpoint, but aesthetically pleasing in an art installation kind of way), and leave behind an ominous stenciled note which simply says: "Your days of plenty are numbered."

The premise may bring to mind the aspiring novelist in Memento director Chris Nolan's Following, who used art as an excuse for his voyeuristic breaking and entering, but Edukators' Jan (Goodbye Lenin's Daniel Brühl) and Peter (Stipe Erceg) are motivated purely by politics. Then again, are anyone's motives entirely pure? Jan--as deeply felt as his hatred of injustice may be--is clearly also addicted to the adrenaline rush that waits just on the other side of entering a fearful situation. Peter--who is decidedly less brooding but ultimately no less committed--has no problem compromising the purity of their endeavor by pocketing an expensive watch on the sly. Nevertheless, the two longtime friends' nocturnal adventures come across as the exhilarating fun of youthful innocents attempting to reinvent the co-opted rebellion of a previous generation.

Weingartner's use of hand-held camera gives The Edukators a pleasingly hyperkinetic feel from the word go, conveying both the excitement of youthful rebellion and the sense that things could spin out of control at any minute. And that's pretty much the case: It's not long after Peter's girlfriend, Jule (Julia Jentsch), becomes enmeshed in their exploits that what began as a politically subversive prank threatens to become something entirely more grave.

Without straining too hard at the edges of credibility, The Edukators is full of unexpectedly satisfying plot twists. Yet none of them come at the expense of characterization. At some point, virtually every character becomes someone with whom the viewer can identify, as the lines between black and white begin fading to gray.

Equally impressive is Weingartner's ability to interject believable political discussions into the story line without allowing it to keep the plot from moving forward. When one character (who shall go unnamed so as not to reveal too much of the plot) attempts to justify his behavior by saying he didn't make the rules, Peter quietly points out that "it's not who invents the gun, but who pulls the trigger."

For anyone who has ever felt the urge to somehow strike a blow for equality, or for justice, or maybe just against the status quo, the story of this fictional trio will ring all too true. The Edukators may not provide answers, but it raises more vital questions, conveys more original intelligence and offers more genuine excitement than most films you'll see this year.

The Edukators (R; 127 min.), directed by Hans Weingartner, written by Katerina Held and Weingartner and starring Daniel Brühl and Julia Jentsch, opens Friday at the Nickelodeon in Santa Cruz.

[ Santa Cruz | Metroactive Central | Archives ]

From the August 24-31, 2005 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

Copyright © 2005 Metro Publishing Inc. Maintained by Boulevards New Media.

For more information about Santa Cruz, visit santacruz.com.