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With or Without You: Maren Ade’s “Everyone Else”

With or Without You: Maren Ade's "Everyone Else"

Couples come to life. Couples develop a language. Couples keep company. Couples can find and provide support, comfort, and protection. Couples can harbor, create and define happiness. Couples share a past and live for the future. Couples make, feel and define love. // Couples also forget how to love, and forget how to feel. Couples can regret the past and dread the future. Couples can harbor, create, and define misery. Couples can expose, neglect, and degrade. Couples make lonely. Couples develop a language of resentment and hostility. Couples come undone.

It’s as a couple that we come to know Gitti (Birgit Minichmayr) and Chris (Lars Eidinger), the two main characters of Maren Ade’s Everyone Else. Their individuality arises from within couplehood, rather than the other way around—or rather than separate from it. But the more we learn about them, the more they seem to strain against the boundaries of togetherness. The central tension—in a film defined by frictions—is whether Gitti and Chris are better off together or apart. Everyone Else holds absolutely nothing back yet still leaves that tension unresolved, and it’s as good a filmic Rorschach as you’ll ever see: one is tempted to speak of the film with shoulder-shrugging clichés about the irrationality, impossibility, cruelty, and fickleness of romantic love or about the intertwined dance of love and hate. But the events of Everyone Else are simultaneously too uniquely banal and too irreducibly profound for those handles. In its own wild way—and precisely because of its wildness—Ade’s film is a perfectly complete portrait of romantic entanglement. Being on the inside can be brutal, but few things are as worthy of the trouble.

Read all of Eric Hynes’s review of Everyone Else. [Possible spoilers therein.]

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