Friday, February 9, 2024


Unter dir die Stadt/The City Below (2011) - Hochhäusler Screen Shot 2024-02-08 at 9.00.45 PM Screen Shot 2024-02-08 at 9.02.55 PM Screen Shot 2024-02-08 at 9.23.34 PM Screen Shot 2024-02-08 at 9.37.01 PM Screen Shot 2024-02-08 at 9.46.04 PM Screen Shot 2024-02-08 at 9.52.14 PM Screen Shot 2024-02-08 at 10.02.48 PM Screen Shot 2024-02-08 at 10.07.35 PM Screen Shot 2024-02-08 at 10.18.11 PM Screen Shot 2024-02-08 at 11.23.45 PM Non-descript glass and steel skyscrapers of Frankfurt are as much characters as the cold and calculating people who inhabit in Christoph Hochhäusler's take on Global Financial Crisis of 2007-2008. A young couple Oliver (Mark Waschke) and Svenja (Nicolette Krebitz) just moved to Frankfurt because Oliver got a job at a big bank which is headed by the 'banker of the year' recipient Roland (Robert Hunger-Bühler). Oliver is one of the many ambitious young men who are jockeying up the corporate ladder in a cutthroat environment. They pose for a group picture while saying "GREED". The bank is in the process of acquiring a rival in a ruthless takeover under Roland's instructions while hushing up the kidnapping and gruesome death of an employee in their Indonesian branch, as the Asian Economic Crisis deepens. Svenja wonders through the urban jungle made of glass, lying about her work experiences on her CV as a photo editor while half-heartedly applying for jobs. She casually walks on by at her husband's high-tech, antiseptic new workplace, and catches Roland's attention. Against all his instinct and judgment, he becomes obsessed with the young woman. She as well, perhaps knowing who he is, goes along with his advances and ends up in a hotel room with him. Then they think better of themselves and go their separate ways.

An opportunity comes up to get rid of Oliver from the picture, dressed up as a promotion. It's the position of as the new head of their Indonesian branch, replacing the recently deceased. Even though he is not the most qualified, Roland pushes for Oliver, in pursuit of Svenja. Soon as Oliver leaves, their affair begins.

It is interesting to see their inexplicable attractions to each other, gliding over everything: the impact of the takeover resulting in the loss of hundreds of jobs, and their affair taking a toll on Roland's and company's reputation, possible death of the husband. The word love is never uttered by anyone. The affair is not even overly sexual. It's the greed that takes over in a highly capitalized environment where everyone unknowingly plays power games over each other. It's the greed that breeds like a disease. It's as if Roland and Svenja are there but not there doing what they are doing. The disease has taken them over and they are just going through the motions. The ominous ending, as mass of people running down the street, seen by the morally bankrupt, cheating couple, is chilling. The end of the capitalism has begun.

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