Spread it or ignore it?
Netflix Movie The four of us is a German comedy-drama – or ‘comma’ if you will – that puts two couples in a situation and then just sees what happens from there. Specifically, the situation is a four-week partner exchange that ends with a weekend, when they sit down to assess their thoughts and feelings. Will we care about the information their “experience” reveals? We’ll see.
The essential: Janina (Nilam Farooq) is a lifestyle magazine editor and Ben (Louis Nitsche) is a struggling actor; they are a couple. Maria (Paula Kalenberg) is a kindergarten teacher and Nils (Jonas Nay) is a real estate broker; they are a couple. But this is how we meet them for the first time now. Janina and Nils get in the car, and they are tense and thorny together. Ben and Maria get in the car, and they are in love together. The four weeks are up – four weeks of trading with other important people, but with a strict no-sex rule. So they find themselves in the big chic seaside house of Nils father, where they return with their usual partners and everything returns to normal and all the parties live happily ever after.
No! Ben and Maria are very much in love. And for a while, everyone is clumsy and treading on eggshells because Ben and Maria didn’t tell Janina and Nils that they were planning to stay together. Nils feels it coming, while Janina sits in the bathroom and looks at a positive pregnancy test. Let’s stop here to talk a bit about these characters: Janina is up for a promotion in the magazine and is obsessed with posting flattering bullshit on Instagram. Ben’s lack of professional success contributes to his insecurity. Maria is harassed by her mother to have children, but she insists that she doesn’t want them. And Nils, well, he’s cocky and sarcastic, quick with an arched eyebrow, smirk and shitty comment, always taking work-important phone calls in the midst of situations where most wouldn’t normally even take calls. telephone minors for work.
It’s not a spoiler to say that things in this situation will get more complicated before they get less complicated. Secrets, disclosures and vulnerabilities will be distributed at regular intervals. Some are funny, others are heavy and accompanied by sad indie rock on the soundtrack. Things are said, punches are thrown, misunderstandings balance understandings, vomit makes himself vomit, one of the four does not wear a towel when sweating in a group in the sauna, etc. And that same sad indie rock track keeps coming back like a bad dime for the times we’re not supposed to laugh.
What movies will this remind you of? : The four of us it’s a bit like Trioexcept with less sex and a conversation that wouldn’t have happened without a 25-year perspective on the effects of the internet on human relationships.
Performances to watch: Kalenberg and Farooq are the most onscreen among the group, but their characters are too light-hearted for us to get too involved in their individual and collective struggles.
Memorable dialogue: “This is going to be fun.” – About 20 minutes after the start of the film, Nils speaks too early
Gender and skin: A bare butt.
Our opinion : The four of us is a little funny but not really, and a little dramatic but not really either. You can feel the director Florian Gottschick let go so things don’t get too silly or too emotionally intense, and the result is good, but fair. The Nils-centric comedy is too sour, too cynical, and that vomit scene is a bridge too far into Grossoutville, especially for a movie that tries, I don’t know, to say something about monogamy and polyamory, l education and nature, I guess? It’s too shallow thematically for him to infer anything particularly substantial.
The characters call their situation an “experiment”, suggesting the application of the scientific method to the unpredictability of the human emotional mind, although it does not follow through on this notion. It’s a complicated subject for sure, and the film doesn’t seem to know how to approach it, opting for a shaky plot to resolve the conflict, where a more insightful film might opt ââfor richer ambiguities. This movie is the equivalent of browsing Wikipedia for the key points to put in the book report.
Our call: TO JUMP. The four of us shows a certain ambition and presents some performances with an escape potential. But the material is too fragile, and therefore immemorable.
John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Read more of his work on johnserbaatlarge.com or follow him on Twitter: @johnserba.
Flux The four of us on Netflix