Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Autumn Blood [2013]

MPAA (UR would be R)  Fr. Dennis (2 Stars)

IMDb listing

Autumn Blood [2013] (directed and cowritten by Markus Blunder along with Stephen T. Barton) an Austrian film that played recently at the 17th European Union Film Festival held here at the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago could best be characterized as a Austrian rendition of Deliverance [1972]

A family from the city has moved out to a small farm high in the Tyrolian Alps.  It's clear at the onset of the film that they're still rather new at this.  The mother (played by Jacqueline Le Saunier) and teenage daughter (played by Stephie Lowe) still clearly haven't gotten the hang of chopping wood. 

The father (played by Jonas Laux) is clearly out of his element as well: When in the opening scene in the film, he sees his wife walking up the road to their farm house being harassed by one of the villagers from the town below, he grabs his rifle and runs down to show him that he means business... only to be shot dead in the head by the villager's friend trailing behind with a shot gun as well.

What to do?  For reasons unclear -- fear, pride, shock -- the family doesn't report the murder of their father/husband to the authorities (in the village below ...).  Instead, they -- mother/wife, teenage daughter, as well as 8-10 year old son (played by Maximilian Harnisch) apparently bury their husband/father on a nearby meadow by a lovely Alpine lake. 

Well, needless to say, things don't get better ...

Mom soon dies as well (why? it's unclear).  The teenage daughter and her younger brother bury her next to their father and still remain living in their little farm house up in the mountains.  Why?  Again, probably fear, now wondering what would happen to them if they reported that they were truly "on their own."

They do manage for a few weeks.  But the villagers come to notice (as villagers would notice) that the kids are now running all the errands for the family, when in the past the parents would have done so.  So the postal clerk (played by George Lenz) eventually calls the authorities, and a social worker (played by Annica McCrudden) eventually arrives "from civilization below" to check on the children.

In the meantime, there are two kids, including a teenage girl, living-up there all alone in the mountains. Some of the villagers had already been acting in a rather predatory manner even when the parents were still alive.  Well ... if "nothing happened" when the father was shot dead, why should anything happen now when the only ones left are the children ... and especially that rather lovely teenage girl.

So the rest of the movie follows ...

There are differences between the way this (European) version of a rather-common Hollywood story-line plays itself out, this European version being perhaps as graphic (though differently) than the Hollywood versions (certainly making the film BASICALLY R-RATED). 

However, let's put it this way, in the Hollywood versions of this storyline, the teenage girl, probably covered in blood would eventually "restore justice" by avenging the deaths of her loved ones.  In this European version, justice is restored but NOT IN THAT WAY.  I'm not going to say more ;-)

What to think of this movie?  It's not particularly edifying.  The villagers are portrayed largely as hypocrites.  They all go to Mass yet SOME of them then leave the Church to do TERRIBLE THINGS to this family (and OTHERS do nothing about it...).  But there are also SOME villagers who are good and do get involved.  On the other hand, the Justice that does come is almost "Divine."  (Again, I'm not going to say anything more about that ... except that "it's interesting."

So ... while certainly not a "kids film" or even a "family film" ... it would probably interest movie goers who are already well versed in the Hollywood treatment of the "Hicks are dangerous and perhaps even Evil" storyline.

That story-line is in itself rather offensive to folks who live in the country (and I've written various reviews against such films [1] [2] [3]).  I suppose what makes this film somewhat interesting is that storyline is somewhat altered to suit a European sensibility.

Again, this film is basically an "Alpine" Deliverance [1972].

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