Never Look Away
Never Look Away, the multi Oscar-nominated third feature film by German writer-director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, is many things: a haunting war story, a touching romance, a grand historical epic and a taut crime thriller. All of these are neatly wrapped up in a thoughtful allegory of the connection between art, experience and political influences. A beautifully moving and profoundly human cinematic odyssey, Never Look Away chronicles the life of talented painter Kurt Barnert (Tom Schilling) as he grows up in East Germany under Nazi rule and the Communist GDR regime before fleeing to West Germany, where he struggles to give voice to his art.
In a runtime of just over three hours, there’s no shortage of substance to be found within the dozens of intricate layers von Donnersmarck weaves together in his script to create a rather broad but nonetheless in-depth snapshot of the significant events that shape the life of his central character and his art. Even with the movie’s gargantuan length, the pacing never suffers thanks to the filmmaker’s ability to effortlessly flow from one sequence into the next, with each shot just as beautifully crafted as the last and elevated even higher by a sublimely ethereal score by the wondrous Max Richter.
By far, though, the biggest praise must go to the cast, all of whom are simply exceptional regardless of the size of role. Schilling, in particular, must be applauded for his ability to express vastly different levels of emotion throughout his performance. Sebastian Koch and Paula Beer round out the central cast just as brilliantly, and a special mention needs to be given to Oliver Masucci for his emotionally charged monologue.
The film isn’t without fault, however, and suffers from some rather strange tonal clashes. There are a handful of montage sequences that look as if they’ve came from a 90s sitcom – something made all the more peculiar by being juxtaposed between far more sombre sequences. Some special effects, too, are rather awkward, leagues away from the harrowing effect intended. However, neither of these flaws are bad or frequent enough to take away from the picture’s overwhelming success.
Von Donnersmarck’s movie is a visual tapestry of beauty and art and viewers just won’t be able to take their eyes off of the very aptly named Never Look Away.
Never Look Away is released in select cinemas on 5th July 2019.
Watch the trailer for Never Look Away here: