In den Gängen (In the Aisles)
Germans working in retail are not known for their smalltalk. There are no banalities about the weather, not even an enquiry as to whether the customer is having a good day. There’s simply a “guten tag,” before purchases are zipped over the scanner and cash is handed over. The apparently rich inner lives of a gang of night supermarket workers is on display in director Thomas Stuber’s In den Gängen (In the Aisles), although the supermarket setting is more to show a group of people whose odd working hours puts them on the periphery of life. The shop itself is not essential, and neither is the film.
Christian (Franz Rogowski) begins a new job as a night stockman at a massive, labyrinth wholesale style of supermarket. He has a shady past, and appears to be making a concerted effort to stay on the straight and narrow (much like the aisles of his workplace). He takes direction from his brusquely charming supervisor Bruno (Peter Kurth) and quickly becomes enchanted with co-worker Marion (Sandra Hüller). Each employee wears a name badge that also displays the department in which they work, and the camera lingers on Marion’s breast, which displays a badge reading “sweet goods”.
There are many amusing, almost (but not quite) moving moments in Stuber’s movie. The supermarket is brilliantly realised in its maze-like layout, and Bruno’s speech about how its different departments are like warring factions is rather cute. There are in fact a number of chuckles in this rather interesting piece, and yet it feels tonally uneven, even uncertain in some respects. At numerous points title cards make it appear as though the film will take on an episodic nature, but this never materialises.
The movie is adapted from a short story by the German writer Clemens Meyer, so it’s unfortunate that it feels protracted, as though a vigorous trimming would have resulted in a leaner, more engaging feature. In den Gängen (In the Aisles) is agreeable in an undemanding way.
In den Gängen (In the Aisles) 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.