Hedi Schneider Is StuckBerlin Film Festival 2015
Hedi Schneider Is Stuck is Munich-native Sonja Heiss’ second feature-length film that recently screened at the 65th Berlin Film Festival in the Forum section. The film admirably tackles the issue of mental illness, specifically anxiety and depression, that blindsides formerly carefree, quirky Hedi (Laura Tonke) and her kind-hearted husband Uli (Hans Löw). It also leaves confused their young son Finn (Leander Nitsche) who accepts his mother’s illness but not his father’s reaction to it.
While at times a heavy viewing experience, like when Hedi experiences her first panic attack, there is a melancholic humor to the film. Hedi becomes reliant on her anxiety medication, which is only supposed to act as an emergency fix, comparing it fondly to the effects of marijuana. She’ll take it, wander the city, and meet up with her husband at a friendly soirée, only to vomit on an unsuspecting party-goer as soon as she arrives.
Surprisingly, Hedi never becomes a tiring character – if anything, Udi’s short-lived ability to cope with his wife’s illness is more abhorrent. It’s clear Hedi didn’t intend to ruin Uli’s trip to Africa, and his bitterness at not being able to go, and violating the fidelity of their marriage, is more childish than any of the imaginary games Uli and Hedi enjoy with Finn. Heidi Schneider Is Stuck represents the strain depression and anxiety can have on a partner by depicting how selfishness can strike even idealistic altruistic characters. Uli helps the deaf find jobs and intended to help the marginalised in Gambia before his wife got sick. He needed stability in his home life, and lashed out when he no longer had it.
The woman who gets physically stuck in an elevator at the beginning of the film, cracking jokes with the man on the other side of the alarm system by pretending to place a fast food order, begins to reappear at the end of the film. Although it’s clear Hedi is hiding the residual effects she’s experiencing from Uli, knowing she can’t rely on him fully to fix her, she is getting better. On vacation in Norway the family begins to repair itself. Uli and Hedi reintroduce themselves, and another phase of their life begins. The ending doesn’t trivialise mental illness, making it seem like a surpassed obstacle. Hedi isn’t the same woman from the beginning of the film, but she certainly isn’t mentally stuck anymore.
Hedi Schneider is Stuck is a complex viewing experience with amazing acting performances not to be underestimated and well worth the watch.
Hedi Schneider is Stuck does not yet have a UK release date.
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Watch the trailer for Hedi Schneider is Stuck here: