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From writer/director Götz Spielmann comes a film from Austria, but don’t look for any waltzes under the moonlight.   I’ve never seen Vienna look so gray and drab as it does here.   This is not the city as romantic backdrop for tourists but rather a film concerned with the everyday lives of the people who live and work there.

The movie is structured as three intertwining stories.   We’re familiar with this strategy, in which each story’s characters impact the lives of the others, if we’ve seen things like Kieslowski’s ‘Decalogue’ (with which it shares the conceit of having all the characters live in the same housing project) and Inarritu’s “Amores Perros” (with which it shares a fateful car crash as linking mechanism).  

The three stories: (1) A family aspiring to middle-class status plans their move out of the projects even as the wife/mother, a nurse, resumes a torrid affair; (2) a grocery store check-out clerk suspects her husband, an immigrant from Yugoslavia, of infidelity (and rightly so); and (3) an abusive man torments his ex, who is having an affair with the immigrant.  

A quick Google search reveals that Antares is a brilliant red star that is the heart of the Scorpion, i.e. the Scorpio constellation.   Antares is “40,000 times brighter than the Sun” and could explode at any time.   It’s a metaphor for the destructive power of the burning passion that compels the abuser, the unfaithful nurse and the immigrant to indulge themselves regardless of the damage wreaked and the pain visited upon others.  

Word of warning: This film is a bit notorious in that some of the intimacies depicted in the first story are not simulated.   For that reason I shan’t recommend it, and certainly not in a forum frequented by my mother!   In any event, the film has individual scenes of great poignancy but does not expand significantly on what the likes of Kieslowski and Inarritu have accomplished.

- Mar 26, 2005

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