Art tends to focus on themes of youth – the wonders of beauty, finding an identity and growing up. Old age is a lot less explored because it is difficult to portray but also because ageing terrifies people. It is hard for artists to focus on this period of life because a positive resolution is out of reach a lot of times.
Less is more in Ludwig Wüst’s terse cinematic journey Aufbruch, which focuses on two forlorn strangers who struggle with grief, loss and getting older. They meet in the countryside by chance and help each other through the thorny mysteries of life without words but with presence and understanding. The woman (Claudia Martini) violently cuts her brother out of her life and spends the movie dwelling on her ruined potential, her lack of direction and purpose.
The plot wanders aimlessly from an abandoned carpenter’s workshop, to a run-down old house to an old port. Wüst’s film is bursting with beautiful imagery, jumping from alluring settings to intimate close ups of the man (Wüst) using his hands to work with wood and solve problems. At one point, he constructs a wooden cross, a potent symbol removed of its significance; it represents more of a white flag to life. Aufbruch is an experiment that attempts to forge it’s own visual language using minimal props, symbols and compelling physical performance.
Unfortunately, while the performances are touching, the languid pacing is an endurance test resulting in a structure that is turgid and self-indulgent. The gloomy pessimism is a heavy burden on the audience but, at times, there are occasional bursts of genuine pathos that light up the dark
Aufbruch (Departure) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2018 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.