Sunday, 11 May 2014

A film review: "Illusion" [2013 Germany]

Roland Reber, no stranger to controversy with his persistent recourse to eroticism, continues his exploration of human behaviour and their secret desires through his latest drama "Illusion".

A scene from Roland Reber's Illusion Carolina Hoffmann in Roland Reber's Illusion
Roland Reber and Carolina Hoffmann in the film Illusion Marina Anna Eich and Antje Nikola Mönning in Roland Reber's Illusion

The film incorporates several of Reber's pet themes like lust, nymphomania, greed, and entitlement, that lay lurking behind people's respectable façades. The illusion they represent, and delusions that they harbour, are at the centre of the film's concerns. But it also acknowledges people's justification for the illusions that they create about themselves, before making a concerted argument against them.

Three conventional couples and two singletons are taken from their surroundings and placed inside a bar - to mingle, interact, and fantasise. The premise is vaguely reminiscent of Luis Buñuel's 'The Exterminating Angel' in the way the director places his 'subjects' in a glass cage of their own making and observes them with amusement as they suffocate. The difference here however is the film's quasi-prophetic tone, and the fact that one amongst the eight bar-guests is also doing the observing.

He captures images of guests with a mobile phone, ostensibly for his Facebook page - he, who himself lives in an illusionary world of 'friends' and 'likes', is also the most detached among the lot. The bar itself is intended as a metaphor, as a halfway place where mask-wearing illusionists are given a reality-check, just as the social networking site also represents imaginary social mobility. It's plain to see that the couples have turned up at the bar looking for some excitement in their otherwise dull lives, but when they find it, they simply couldn't enjoy it as much...

Appreciating Illusion, and director Reber who also plays God in the film, requires a disassociation from conventional narrative - while events take place linearly, individual fantasies and visual metaphors are also inserted in between, and it will not always be apparent as to whose fantasies they represent. As in his other films, the comedy drama liberally quotes from the Bible whilst simultaneously indulging in the erotic.

Apart from the usual cast who double-up as crew (or vice-versa in some cases), the film also introduces a new member of the WTP stable, cast in a stellar role - the fresh-faced, young, and a rather cute Carolina Hoffmann. Multi-faceted Antje Nikola Mönning, apart from playing a bored housewife with wanton desires, is the film's music director, and whilst she shares production duties with Patricia Koch, Marina Anna Eich, and Roland Reber, is also credited as the assistant director. The film, as it stands, might have its little foibles - its overindulgence on special effects and a fixation with gaudy lighting being just two of them, but it is an altogether well rounded and presented feature along the lines of The Dark Side of Our Inner Space, with the exuberance of 24/7 The Passion of Life. It is Recommended Viewing..! DVD Link [PAL] | Blu-ray Link | Official Trailer and Website


The Nudity: Marina Anna Eich, Antje Nikola Mönning, Carolina Hoffmann, Wolfgang Seidenberg, and others
The film contains intermittent nudity and sex - some explicit. A heady scene in particular, features a restrained Antje Nikola Mönning being groped and fingered by masked men who later form a queue to take turns with her character. Marina Anna Eich briefly appears nude in a couple of scenes - she plays a married woman with lesbian feelings, and newest member Carolina Hoffmann also appears nude in a number of scenes.

Marina Anna Eich, Antje Nikola Mönning, Carolina Hoffmann, Wolfgang Seidenberg, and others nude in Illusion


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