Johannes is a young man who has never left home and only knows his mother - a recovering addict - and the vet that cares for his eagle Arthur. Maria, the mother, has raised him on a life of hard work, isolation in the Austrian alps and service to God.
All is well.
That is, until a ski resort developer intrudes, obsessed with owning the land that Johannes and his mother live upon. His harassment starts with phone calls, but before it's over, he's unleashed a torrent of threats and a veritable squadron of drones upon our protagonists.
Johannes is a child trapped in a man's body and that man is about to learn that the world that his mother has told him is true is something quite different. Has she been raising him - really, not raising him - to never grow old, to remain a child for as long as she is alive? If she's found God in her solitutde, why has she treated her son this way? And is their relationship oedipal?
Susanne Jensen, the non-actor who plays Maria, and Franz Rogowoski, considered one of Europe's finest actors who is Johannes, have tackled some truly challenging roles here. This isn't a crowd pleasing movie per se; this is a claustrophobic piece of film that goes from stark wildnerness to religious unawakening to a battle against a relentless sea of machinery within nature.
Peter Brunner is just getting started as a director - this is his third film after To the Night and Those Who Fall Have Wings - and as the son of a psychoanalyst and a painting therapist, you can see the contemplative nature of that kind of upbringing has turned him into an intelligent filmmaker; he's also studied under Michael Haneke (Funny Games, Amour) at the Vienna Film Academy.
There's a claim that this movie is "inspired by the true story of an exorcism." The director also claims that this only comes at the dark end of this film. I leave that interpretation up to you, but for someone who mostly watches the work of low end directors, seeing an artistic film like this is often like staring at the sun.
Reviewed by danielbest-986219 / 10
A TRUE GEM ! ! !
Disturbingly brilliant film, thoughtfully narrating how men not only privatize and destroy nature, but imitate the powers of other animals to rule others. The film puts into perspective how much technological progress is a man-made imitation of God, portraying the Antichrist (Luzifer - the fallen Angel) laughing at him and mocking him.
A man in his thirties, innocent as a child and always obedient to his mother, lives apart from modern society with her in a remote hut in the Alps. An eagle, with its all-seeing eye, is his only faithful friend. As ski resort wants to be built on their land. They could be "rich," but they sense it is a trap and won't give it up at any price. And it gets veeery dark.. dark as in "you want it to end soon" type of film. It's enchanting and horrible.
The film juxtaposes religion as well as technology in a spiritual context as man-made constructs that have been modified to govern over others. A family obedient and devoted to the faith of Christ compete in a non-violent spiritual fashion against human-controlled drones - as in eagles without free will, with brainwashed men behind them, following their masters.
The film is about the constant cicle of abuse throughout the existance of the human being descending from a catholic hegemony. Furthermore portrayed by the reality of the world today, the film depicts a devine surrender to what you believe to be "true".
Although I've witnessed about 30 people walking out of the theatre while watching the films Premiere at the Locarno Film Festival, I feel that the film truly makes great way to generate some really interesting discussions with the audience, uncomfortable as they may be (even if you have them with yourself).
Ulrich Seidl has once again proven that he remained a producer (be it his movies or those of others) which makes films about real people and their real stories. Susanne Jensen (the mother) does a fantastic job in her role. Keep in mind that much of her personal life is fragmented in this picture.
Hats off to Franz Rogowski (main charcter), reminding me of Joaquin Phoenix in Joker as he owns his character so skillful and elgantly (he has an eagle for a friend most of the time).
A deeply poetic film that cripples the belief of our shared cloud of knowledge ( = the Internet ), questioning what we TRULY believe in ( as in our own higher "power").
Reviewed by gabireisler8 / 10
Kasper Hauser-Psycho Mix
Just checked out the trailer again after I saw this rough and daring movie at Locarno. Variety teased it as an reimagination of a true story of an innocent, Kaspar Hauser-like man with the heart of a child.
I have to say Herzogs "Kasper Hauser" was strang and beautiful and silly. This one is more like an Ed Gein character from a "Psycho", or François Truffaut "The Wild Child" from planet Eagle language.
I love the meditative space the story generated and circled and circeld to a point of no return and true emotion. If you're up for real emotions and a horror coming from real life: this is your popcon bite!