The White Ribbon (Das weisse Band) (2009) – 4/5

A strange film, to say the least, mostly because it lacks the traditional, straightforward narrative so common to films released in the US. It unfolds more like a novel, and isn’t afraid to be slow in its telling or sprawling in its ambition. It mostly succeeds.

I’m not a huge fan of the director. I didn’t much care for “Cache,” which everyone seems to love despite it being extremely boring and, ultimately, pointless. A few good scenes here and there don’t make a film good. And I haven’t yet seen Funny Games, but I have a strong feeling I probably won’t like it.

With that being said, I did enjoy this film. It definitely shows maturity in both film and story telling style, and the acting is damn great. Some scenes are sad, some scenes are sweet, but they are few and far between. The cinematography is also nice, but at times left me feeling cold, which I guess was the point, but eh. I’m not a huge fan. Kubrick pulled it off better.

But I really admire what the filmmakers tried to do here. Though when all was said and done, I wasn’t sure what I had just watched or what it all meant, it managed to keep me thinking. Things are hinted at, but never explained or given a motive. And though the pace is at times really slow, you’re rewarded with a truly ambitious story that seems to explore elements of human nature that are difficult to put into words.

It’s a hard film to review, or to talk about as I’m still struggling to put it together in my mind. Some could argue that it’s ultimately about evil, and it is, in a way, but it could also be argued that it’s about justice, about rebelling against oppression, about the anger that comes from living one’s entire life under the thumb of a tyrant. Or maybe it’s about other things and I’ve totally missed the mark. I’m not quite sure.

Overall, this is an interesting movie. Not something I’d probably want to watch again, and not exactly a “popcorn” flick, but, if you have the patience for it, there’s a lot to enjoy. It’ll leave you with more questions than answers, but sometimes, that isn’t a bad thing.

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