Jessica Hausner’s 2001 account of small town family life
Obviously less polished than her later work (Hotel, Lourdes), Jessica Hausner’s 2001 account of a teenager’s stultifying small town family life in Austria is easily reflected in the flat images, in the overly even and often bright lighting. The early dinner exchange between Rita (Barbara Osika) and her parents preceded by her father in the basement shooting at a target tells us quickly about the level of dysfunction at work. Even a birthday celebration for dad comes across as strange when they turn the lights back on after bringing the cake with lit candles into the sitting room. Hausner’s achievement is to look at soulless environments, wonderfully and paradoxically realized in Lourdes, but in burgeoning evidence here. Some might find it a bit melodramatic near the end, but there is an inner logic to Rita’s behaviour, almost inevitable given the deadness of the human interactions. Minimal extras.