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THE WALL [DIE WAND] (review)

Review by Dean Galanis

This Austrian adaptation of a sci-fi tinged, philosophical novel by Marlen Haushofer will likely appeal to cineastes who firmly believe the cinematic sun rises and sets in Terrence Malick’s pants.

It’s a decent premise that is unfortunately an interminable slog, despite some nice moments and a good lead performance.

Martina Gedeck plays a woman who travels to the country with her cousin and cousin’s husband, who decide to go into town shortly after arriving, leaving Gedeck alone with their dog, Lynx.

Upon awaking the next morning, Gedeck is surprised to find the pair hasn’t returned yet, so she decides to walk into town with Lynx to investigate.

A ways along the road, Gedeck discovers the wall of the title: an invisible “force field” that has cut her off from the rest of humanity.

She’s forced to maintain her sanity and struggle to survive, yadda yadda.

This jumping-off point has served other stories very well; everything from CAST AWAY to UNDER THE DOME to, well, THE SIMPSONS MOVIE have spun compelling, interesting tales from similar premises. But despite some intriguing imagery (an older couple seemingly frozen in time, the death throes of a deer, etc.), THE WALL is sunk by near-constant, stilted, stodgy narration that adds nothing but annoying, obvious comments to the proceedings.

Most of the time, Gedeck recites (in English, oddly) what she has written in her journal in a somnambulistic manner; not only that, what she has written is basically what we’re attempting to glean visually, anyway, or worse, just glib, flaccid philosophical musings.

It’s like watching a DVD with the worst audio commentary ever, and your AUDIO button is broken.

This could have worked as a short with no voiceover, but two things that this movie gets wrong: it HAS the aforementioned voiceover, and it ain’t short.  It’s the slowest, dullest film I’ve seen in quite some time. In fact, the only thing that kept me awake after awhile was the dog.  I love me some dogs, but that’s a sorry recommendation.

Still, despite her lousy voiceover work, Gedeck delivers an otherwise solid acting job. The film is also well shot, and director Julian Polsler has some effective and appropriate classical music pieces interspersed throughout. Meager triumphs overall, but it has gotten some good notices, so if you’re open to it, and you dig slow, arty flicks, give it a shot.

Hey, it’s got a cool dog…

The Wall will be released October 22 on XBOX, PlayStation, iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Vudu, Google Play/YouTube, and Blu-ray / DVD (through Music Box Films).
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