Afternoon
(Nachmittag)

Screening on Film
Directed by Angela Schanelec.
With Jirka Zett, Miriam Horwitz, Angela Schanelec .
Germany, 2007, 35mm, color, 97 min.
German with English subtitles.
Print source: Deutsche Kinemathek

With a view from behind a theater stage as actors appear to prepare for rehearsal, the opening scene in Afternoon is unlike any other in the film, and yet it “sets the stage” for the audience, who must engage with a shifted perspective, interpreting and deciphering the emotions that reside more or less behind the film’s scenes. The actress on stage (and in the film)—played by Schanelec herself—is a tormented member of a tangle of close, yet fraught relationships unravelling in the peaceful countryside during what is ostensibly a family vacation. In this loose adaptation of Chekov’s play The Seagull, the reunited family has broken and changed in ways that seem to only reluctantly reveal themselves over the course of many summer afternoons. The precise and indirect beauty of Schanelec’s cinema sparkles with a particularly tender luminescence in Afternoon, in which a meditative game of Uno almost leaves as significant an impression as a suicide attempt.

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