The Ground Beneath My Feet (Der Boden unter den Füßen)
Marie Kreutzer’s The Ground Beneath My Feet evokes our society as one with stark dualities. Lola (Valerie Pachner) is an efficient corporate consultant, her older sister Conny (Pia Hierzegger) is a paranoid schizophrenic. Lola is hyper-organised; Conny’s apartment is decked with mounds of clutter. Unsurprisingly, the crisp finish demarcating the differences between these sisters starts to come undone. It is easy to draw similarities to Maren Ade’s 2016 Toni Erdmann (without as much surrealness), which likewise focuses on a businesswoman tugged between the corporate world and family.
Lola glides between sterile hotel rooms and her apartment, each one somehow more impersonal than the next. Her roller-suitcase is an extension of her body. However, as her sister in admitted to a psychiatric ward she loses her stringent efficiency. Now she is distracted in meetings and forgetting appointments. Volatility bubbles beneath her skin almost, but not quite, simmering over. Pachner nails Lola’s persisting strain. Tension accumulates in the day then is bottled up only to be matched by sleepless, deadline-filled nights.
This is a film about streamlining life or rather the futile attempts to streamline it. Lola tries to compartmentalise her sister’s struggle while at work. Her relationship with her boss (Mavie Hörbiger) is kept secret. As Lola’s focus shatters, Kreutzer marches us to her final call. Everyone has frayed edges. Some people are just better at concealing it.
The characters are complicated by the filmmaker creating deliberate uncertainty by purposefully leaving questions unanswered. For one, it is never clarified if Lola is having her own hallucinogenic episodes. The perception of a person can never be whole. We are limited to our own perspective. These subtleties mark Kreutzer’s confidence as a writer-director who elegantly develops an intimate yet spacious world. Kreutzer scrutinises life with her magnifying glass revealing the reality treacling up to the surface.
The Ground Beneath My Feet (Der Boden unter den Füßen) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.
Watch the trailer for The Ground Beneath My Feet here: