The Robber

DER RÄUBER tells the story of a multitalented man: Johann Rettenberger is a successful marathon runner and a serial bank robber. Soberly and precisely he measures his heart rate, strain, stamina and efficiency – both during training runs and bank raids, from which, concealed beneath a ludicrous mask and armed with a pump gun, he takes flight from the police. He lives, undiscovered, with his girlfriend Erika in Vienna. However, his addiction to the passion, the kick, the exercise and the symmetry of the perfect robbery propels him to take off for a regular fix – as much as three times a day. When he is discovered, he bolts, as fast as his legs will carry him, from a massive police cavalcade. Somebody like Johann has no goal: he keeps on running because what he seeks is a pure and permanent state of motion. His flight forces him to press on and on – but he has no intention of ever arriving.

Benjamin Heisenberg’s current work, his second as a director after SCHLÄFER, is an adaptation of the eponymous novel by Martin Prinz which was based on real crimes committed in Austria. The film portrays its robber-protagonist as a top athlete and practitioner of his trade; an endorphin junkie, who is also both a lover and someone in search of freedom. Benjamin Heisenberg: “I see him as a kind of a natural phenomenon, driven by innate energy that forces him to take bank robbing and running to its limits. On the other hand, he also needs to live and to love and seeks an affectionate relationship – these are dramatic contradictions indeed.”

[Synopsis courtesy of the Berlin International Film Festival]


Nick Gutlicht, a small-time crook from a working class background who makes a living in the illegal trade of valuable books is in debt and has to go underground. He happens to wind up at the elegant town house of well-known but now elderly philosopher Curt Ledig, who, in spite of his dementia and a pathological aversion to kitchens, is unwilling to move in with his daughter. Thus Nick is hired by the family to look after the old man. Curt can now work on the lecture nobody expects him to be able to give at an impending symposium, and Nick gets a first-rate hide-out. The partnership of convenience between these two individualists soon develops its own momentum. Curt sees in Nick a fascinating new research subject and makes him undergo an absurd therapy. Nick senses in Curt’s phenomenal library a unique opportunity to consolidate his finances. Mayhem of unforeseen proportions ensues. [Synopsis courtesy of Berlinale]