If you have two pounds in your pocket and two hours available, rent this film. If not for the taut acting and the laconic script, then at least for its beauty. Martin Gschlacht's cinematography is a thing of wonder, which complements the drama with a rare subtlety.
The film begins with an image of rural domestication: a young woman, Susanne, plaintively watches her husband, Robert, an off-duty policeman, mow the lawn of their home in the verdant Austrian countryside. Cut to the unremitting seediness of the Viennese underworld, where Alex, a gauche small-time criminal, has dreams of a better life for himself and his prostitute girlfriend, Tamara. The lives of the two couples, at first so distinct, are drawn together by happenstance – and, in a flurry of bad luck, all their lives are up-ended.
It is a testament to the director Götz Spielmann's skill that the film manages to move from tale of urban anomie to a revenge play with grace and confidence. Confronting fundamental existential questions about fate and its selection of victims, Spielmann's dramatic structure produces a divergent and diverting tapestry, which owes much to early, hard-edged American film noir. With spades of pathos, great style and moral overtones that avoid being sententious, this is a film to be savoured.