The first episode, Christian Petzolds Beats Being Dead, works the best of the three films at least for three-quarters of its running time. It is a romantic story that charts the attraction between male nurse Jacob Matschenz and maid Luna Zimic Mijovic after he offers her shelter. The two actors work very well together and their romance contains a freshness and sparkle that is naturalistic rather than generic cliche. The only failing of Beats Being Dead is its last quarter where a number of plot elements Jacob Matschenzs apparent background from a society family that he is avoiding for unknown reasons, his past relationship with Vijessna Ferkic and abrupt decision to dump Luna Zimic Mijovic and leave for Berlin with Ferkic come out of nowhere, are given insufficient explanation and make for an abrupt and unsatisfying downer of an ending.
The second film, Dominik Grafs Dont Follow Me Around, is very different in tone. The freshness of the two romantic leads in the first film is replaced by the older and more cautious Jeanette Hain who is brought in as a psychologist to advise on the hunt for the escaped killer. While this section gives the appearance of getting its teeth more into the detective story aspect, this is not the case and the film spends most of its time dealing with Jeanette Hain as she settles into the guesthouse of her friend (Susanne Wolff) and husband (Misel Maticevic) and going over old times, discovering that they shared a mutual boyfriend at the same time. The characters in this section are all well-played, especially the very likeable Susanne Wolff and the haplessly happy-go-lucky Misel Maticevic. The detective story is there but not given a huge amount of prominence. The scenes with the three characters work engagingly well but just when the film seems to be holding no great direction, Dominik Graf pulls it together in an ending that contains an effective and subtle surprise that makes the whole knit together very nicely.
The third film, Christoph Hochhauslers One Minute of Darkness, tells the story of the escaped killer. Most of this focuses on the unexceptional and ordinary seeming Stefan Kurt and his escape into the forest and evasion of the pursuing authorities. After building him up as something dangerous throughout the preceding two films, even maniacally blood-covered in the first film, Stefan Kurts everyday blankness is a surprise. Christoph Hochhausler even gives us a scene, just like the classic one in Frankenstein (1931), where Kurt befriends a child in the wilds and we do not know whether he is going to kill her or what. The escape scenes are interspersed with a B-plot where an aging detective (Eberhard Kirchberg) investigates the original crime and the crucial missing minute on the security camera footage, which serves to subtly cast doubt on our assumptions about whether the killer is or isnt guilty. The final scene of the film holds a bleak surprise that shows what we assumed all along was wrong too.
(Screening at the Vancouver International Film Festival)
Clip from Beats Being Dead here:-
Clip from One Minute of Darkness here:-