movie-review logo az world news

DER UNSCHULDIGE (2018, ŠVI) – 8/10

A hallucinatory and borderline surreal psychological drama which premiered at the festival in San Sebastianit was filmed by the Swiss Simon Jaquemet, and the excellent Judith Hoffman won the award for the best Swiss actress of the year. She is Ruth, a neuroscientist in her late forties or early fifties through whose eyes we follow this dark, shocking, twisted and deeply disturbing story. Her life probably looked maybe not perfect, but normal, decent, pleasant, peaceful until she found out that after 20 years, her lover was released from prison and was convicted of murder, although he claimed to be innocent all the time.

And the first thing this mysterious guy did was to visit Ruth, a married woman with two teenage daughters who, along with her family, worked in a laboratory where they perform experiments on monkeys, devoted herself to religion. Both Ruth and her whole family, especially her husband, are real Christian fanatics, they go to the concerts of those sleazy Christian rock bands, and the main authority for them is the local preacher. Her beliefs guided her through life, but nothing will be the same after her ex-lover is released from prison. He seems to awaken some ghosts from the past when Ruth was young and probably a completely different person, and all that she probably suppressed and hid deep inside herself, will now slowly begin to surface.

READ:  The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022) Movie Trailer, Cast

And from the beginning, Ruth seems paranoid and scared, and fear, anxiety and even longing can be read on her face. The illusion of a peaceful and serene religious life that she thought she had built will practically fall apart overnight, and her life will turn into a kind of limbo between fantasy and nightmare in which it is very difficult to distinguish what is reality and what is delusion. From the beginning, “Der Unschuldige” or “The Innocent” seems mysterious, like some strange puzzle that you can tell from the beginning that a lot of pieces are missing in order to be put together. However, Jaquemet masterfully takes us on a dark and completely shocking journey to the end in a film that begins in the classic European naturalistic style, as we practically constantly follow Ruth with a hand-held camera.


In these kinds of films, it usually becomes clearer to us over time what is happening, but with Ruth, the situation seems to get more and more complicated over time. We are less and less clear about her behavior and her train of thought, and her job, in which she becomes more and more obsessive in trying to cure monkeys, seems to hide a lot of symbolism about her real life. Trying to cure and save the monkey on whom she was conducting an experiment and return him to the beginning, she seems to want to return her life to the initial settings, that is, to the moment before she found out that her long-forgotten partner was released from prison.

The fact that instead of a psychologist, he will seek help from a preacher from his sect or religious community will play an important role in this whole hallucinatory story until the end, and it is well known that such attempts to help are not only often unsuccessful, but can also be and completely counterproductive. It is a film that has a somewhat Hanekeian, insidious, ominous, dark atmosphere, a hermetic psychological drama that seems to question what kind of subconscious drives and impulses in the brain are there that lead an initially seemingly ordinary and prudent person down the path of (self)destruction and chaos. Thus, Ruth will cross the invisible border between reality and fantasy before we realize it, and “Der Unschuldige” turned out to be an extremely intense film open to various interpretations that is very difficult to classify, but it is also unique for that.

READ:  The Tinder Swindler Netflix Documentary plot, cast