I have 469 movies in my Netflix Instant queue. I tend to watch one thing for every five that I add, but now my library is close to being full and I have to make room. So, every Monday I’m going to pick a random movie out of my queue and review the shit out of it. But (like Jesus), I’m also thinking of you and your unwieldy queue and all the movies in it you want to watch but no longer have the time to now that you’ve become so awesome and popular. Let me know what has been gathering digital dust in your Netflix Instant library and I’ll watch that, too. One Monday for you and the next for me and so on. Let’s get to it.
What’s the movie? The Robber (2010)
What’s it rated? Unrated for emotionless sex, a bludgeoning and a few easy ideas on how to rob a bank.
Did people make it? Written by Benjamin Heisenberg and Martin Prinz. Directed by Benjamin Heisenberg. Acted by Andreas Lust, Franzisca Weisz, Johann Bednar and Walter Huber.
What’s it like in one sentence? A character study if the character were a complete enigma.
Why did you watch it? RelaxingDragon and Seti talked me into it. So did my recent foreign film gluttony.
What’s it about in one paragraph? Based on a true story, The Robber follows the strange story of Johann Rettenberger, a long distance runner who also robbed banks for shits and giggles. Most of the film focuses on him trying to stay a few steps ahead of the police and his parole officer, while also searching for a sense of normalcy with his new lady friend.
Play or remove from my queue? It’s worth watching, if nothing else for the final (extremely tense) 30 minutes. It’s a good movie that is tightly acted and with solid, workmanlike direction, but all of the ingredients exist in this film for it to be something much better than just good, though. I think that all of my issues from the film stem from the lead character and my complete inability to understand a single moment of his thought process throughout the movie’s running time. Upon looking at some of the user reviews on Netflix, I discovered that most people weren’t bothered by that aspect and compared the film to Drive in how little we actually get to know our protagonist. I have to disagree with that, though, because even though there are many thematic similarities between the films, I never found myself emotionally invested in the story of The Robber, where I was fully on board with Gosling in Drive. I think the difference is that Gosling’s character, while being a pretty big enigma, also infused The Driver with charisma and personality, while Andreas Lust (he should make a superhero movie with Dieter Laser) plays Rettenberger as one step above a robot and I never found myself that interested in his story.
When he gets out of prison at the beginning (after serving six years for attempted bank robbery) he robs a bank the next day. The day after that, he enters a marathon and wins it, earning a bunch of money and fame. The next day, he goes out and robs another bank. This pattern continues for half the movie and I understand that the subtext is that he enjoys the adrenaline kick and isn’t robbing for the money (which we never see him spend a dime of), but the performance seems to be all blank stares and silent moments. His love story with a woman he knew before he went to prison doesn’t feel shoehorned into the film necessarily, but he’s so quiet and strange and she’s really pretty and normal, that most of the choices they make regarding their relationship don’t add up for me, either. A lot of the weird character choices happen in the finale, so I’ll have to get into that next week.
But the final chase is awesome and Lust nails the physicality and desperation of the character perfectly. Watching him try and figure a way out of an ever tightening perimeter of cops is one of the truly exhilarating moments of the film. I just wish I wasn’t kept at such a clinical distance the entire time. As it stands, the film is fine, but nothing truly memorable or worth re-watching.
Do you have a favorite line? Nothing really stood out to me, especially since our protagonist is such a man of few words.
Do you have an interesting fun-fact? It’s being remade for American audiences in 2013. I bet they’ll go for David Fincher.
What does Netflix say I’d like if I like this? The Next Three Days (Not horrible, but not that great, either), Walk on Water (Mossad Vs. Nazi war criminals!), Daylight Robbery (Looks like everything else), Stander (A fucking classic) and Tycoon: A New Russian (A Russian version of Godfather!)
What does Jared say I’d like if I like this? Drive, obviously. Also, Point Break for the whole Adrenaline junkie aspect of the film. And the old people masks.
What is Netflix’s best guess for Jared? 3.2
What is Jared’s best guess for Jared? 2.9
Can you link to the movie? Sure!
Any last thoughts? I don’t need a fully explained character history to enjoy a film, but I do need a fully realized character and, since this was based on a true story, I don’t understand how the filmmakers didn’t know more about this guy to fully flesh him out. I just needed more.
Did you watch anything else this week? Wrath of the Titans (Better than the first, but that’s damning with faint praise), but otherwise I was prepping for bachelor party that showed me new uses for the word “shame”.
Any spoilerish thoughts about last week’s film, Elite Squad: The Enemy Within? I just wanted to see if people agree that the film shifts dramatically from the first one’s political views. Does it seem like a compromise, or just a realization that multiple viewpoints are worth examining in every argument?
Next Week? A Somewhat Gentle Man or something a lighter, less foreign and maybe a little stupider?