THE GROUND BENEATH MY FEET (DER BODEN UNTER DEN FUSEN)
(director/writer: Marie Kreutzer; cinematographer: Leena Kopper; editor: Ulrike Kofler; music: Kyrre Kvam; cast: Valerie Pachner (Lola Wegenstein), Pia Hierzegger (Conny), Mavie Hörbiger (Elise), Michelle Barthel (Birgit), Marc Benjamin (Sebastian Selikowski), Axel Sichrovsky (Herr Bacher), Dominic Marcus Singer (Jürgen), Meo Wulf (Clemens); Runtime: 108; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Alexander Glehr, Franz Novotny; Strand Releasing; 2019-Austria-in German with English subtitles)
“Well-crafted clinically observed art house tale of a modern-day business woman trapped in a rotten job.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Austrian born filmmaker Marie Kreutzer (“The Fatherless”/”We Used To Be Cool”) is the auteur of this well-crafted clinically observed art house tale of a modern-day business woman trapped in a rotten job.
Lola (Valerie Pachner, Austrian actress) is a beautiful and well-dressed thirty-something workaholic, an orphan (growing up in a foster home) who is on the fast track to success as an aggressive consultant (a restructuring expert for a German firm, coldly saving companies from bankruptcy through drastic measures–such as laying off workers without concerns for them). She regularly works long shifts without sleep for 48 hours and travels back and forth between her home in Vienna and her job in Germany (or to companies located in far off spots that have hired her firm).
At home she is the legal guardian of her 40-year-old half-sibling, Conny (Pia Hierzegger), who is an institutionalized suicidal paranoid schizophrenia in need of constant attention.
At the workplace Lola has a curious secret relationship with her female boss, Elise (Mavie Hoerbiger), who is also her lover.
Lola desperately tries to keep her professional and private lives separate, not telling anyone of her personal problem. But complications grow when Elise finds out about Conny. Elise now wonders about Lola and fails to promote her in favor of a man colleague, as the boss now can’t stop having a negative image of her and wondering if mental illness runs in her family.
The film morphs into a character study of the chic Lola trying to hold-on to her new elite status in life while battling a stressful life that is starting to get to her. After years of acting tough to hide her need for affection and her psychological issues, things build for a crash landing. It therefore comes as no surprise when it does, as our heroine seems to have lost her way and needs some kind of a jolt to force a reality check. The film works because Pacher’s performance brilliantly captures how a vulnerable women can be mistreated in the workplace even with a female boss, who should know better.
REVIEWED ON 1/12/2020 GRADE: B https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/