Gespenster/Ghosts (2005) - Petzold
I don't like those intricate puzzle piece films where all the elements neatly tie together and where everything gets explained at the end. Christian Petzold's Gespenster (Ghosts) is a beautifully structured film without sacrificing much of its enigmatic quality. And it's also mad affecting.
A sullen young girl Nina (Julia Hummer) who lives in a group home, witnesses Toni (Sabine Timoteo) getting physically assaulted by a couple of roughnecks in an wooded park. Lonely Nina is at once infatuated with Toni, a hard edged, snarling bad girl, who is in turn, unafraid of taking advantage of Nina and everything else. Then there is Françoise (Marianne Basler), a mentally disturbed French woman in Berlin, looking for her long lost daughter.
There is a revealing scene with Nina where she talks about her dream in her tiny voiced monologue- Toni is her best friend, protector & lover and it's been that way for a long time, even before they met.
Toni is her desire incarnate. There are desirers and desirees. There is fantasy and there is real life. The lines among them blurs in Gespenster, but not in an ethereal, non-sensical way. Nothing feels deliberate in a world Petzold creates.
Timoteo is a force of nature. Her cold stare breaks your heart a thousand times and her smile amends it a thousand before she breaks it again. But it's Hummer who shines in a demanding role as both desirer and desiree. It's a sad film. Nina is the Red Riding Hood or Alice who ends up exactly in the same place where she started. The implication of Nina being a ghost (not in physical sense) deeply affected me more than any other films I've seen in recent years.