Longing (15)

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The Independent Culture

The most gripping film of the week, but also the hardest to watch, is a study of the intensity of passion that can be at work in unremarkable lives. A volunteer fireman from a small German town gets drunk on a training weekend and wakes up next to a waitress; the impossibility of reconciling his new situation with his happy marriage drives him to extremes. While it is contemporary in setting and mood, Valeska Grisebach has affinities with post-war Italian neo-realists like Rossellini, and German Romantics like Goethe - which makes it sound academic; but the superb amateur cast (the leading man is a real volunteer fireman) make the pitch of emotion almost unbearable.