Christian Petzold’s Jerichow plays like a modern riff on The Postman Always Rings Twice, with a globalized European spin. Opening with a funeral and ending with a suicide, the movie is a grim chamber piece that takes on hoary themes—love, money, betrayal—against the backdrop of a borderless West. The cuckold at its center is a Turkish entrepreneur in the middle of East German nowhere. Immigrants dot the conspicuously depopulated landscape. Depression prevails, both economically and emotionally. As if in counterpoint, a harsh, clean light falls on the town from which the movie draws its title—all the better to expose the acts of concealment and secrecy that propel the melodrama.
Ex-soldier Thomas (Benno Furmann) has just returned to Jerichow for his mother’s funeral after a dishonorable discharge from fighting in Afghanistan, and he hopes to renovate her house with some money saved up—a plan that goes up in smoke when a mobster friend collects an old debt and leaves him bruised to boot. Thomas gets a job as a cucumber picker, but that episode—and the peek into the German underclass it brings—is brief. On his way home one day, he comes upon a drunk driver whose Range Rover has veered from the road. Thomas helps the man, Ali (Hilmi Sozer), gets his car out of the ditch, and takes him home, an act of kindness that leads Ali to hire him as his chauffeur after his license is suspended. Click here to read the rest of Elbert Ventura’s review of Jerichow.