Sibylle (Like a Cast Shadow)
Thrilling, horror-esque images accompanied by climactic music open this Michael Krummenacher film, followed by the sudden interruption of a family enjoying a live-action movie scene, giving us a real glimpse of the tumultuous, disorderly and unpredictable journey we are about to embark on.
Like a Cast Shadow focuses on a woman called Sibylle, a pragmatic architect, mother and wife, who witnesses a fatal accident of a woman her age, named Klara, while on holiday in Italy. The film follows Sibylle’s life after the event and captures the fall-out that comes from the change in perception that the incident causes.
Krummenacher instills strong themes: isolation, feminism and the power of perception. Striking shots of journeys keep an underlying current of isolation and loneliness through the film, often capturing a landscape such as a highway road, a tunnel or a corridor with one solitary person or vehicle traveling in the centre. Krummenacher’s use of light and colour also offsets these themes and changes; he uses warm, earthy tones in the beginning of the film, when we see happy family scenarios. However, he cleverly contrasts this with the use of a UV light in the background for scenes between Sibylle and her partner, Jan, suggesting early on that there may be a coldness to their marriage and that all is not as rosy as it seems.
A substantial part of Like a Cast Shadow’s success in keeping the viewer hooked and intrigued is Anne Ratte Polle’s impeccable performance as Sibylle. Polle has a stunning naturalism, a vulnerability that perfectly balances her character’s complexities and makes it impossible not to invest in her. In many respects, Krummenacher creates a classic femme fatal in Sibylle, even echoing the iconic Lady Macbeth hand-washing scene when Sibylle desperately tries to get rid of the mark Klara left on her arm.
Gender issues are very apparent in the in the clear power struggle between Sibylle and Jan, who are not only personal partners but partners in business too and we see how much he resents her for being more successful than him. Sibylle’s oldest son, David, has a fixation with becoming a bodybuilder and watching violent porn, and exclaims the most shocking line in the film: “Women are only there to be fucked anyway.”
The unpredictable nature of Like a Cast Shadow leaves us feeling mind-blown and full of questions, and we are unsure whether Sibylle is declining into madness or if her perception simply changes and she begins to see herself and her family for what they really are; flawed human beings.
Sibylle (Like a Cast Shadow) does not yet have a UK release date.
Read more of our reviews and interviews from the festival here.
For further information about Berlin Film Festival 2015 visit here.