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Palmerston North Film Society


Wed 17 Mar 2010, 5:30pm
Wed 17 Mar 2010, 8:00pm

Where: Downtown Cinemas, 70 Broadway Ave, Palmerston North

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Yearly Membership Waged: $85.00
  • Yearly Membership Unwaged: $70.00
  • Triple Feature Card: $30.00
  • Additional fees may apply

Listed by: Ross Stevenson

Summer in Berlin (Sommer vorm Balkon)
Directed by Andreas Dresen
Germany 2005 107mins

The film follows the friendship of two women in their thirties over the course of a sweltering Berlin summer. Homecare attendant Nike Pawelski and divorcee Katrin Engel spend their evenings on Nike’s balcony, looking down at the city below. From their perspective, the world is turbulent and troublesome – the good guys usually turn out to be bad; decent jobs are hard to come by; and you have to be tough to succeed.

Nike is a reasonably pretty blonde with the body of an Olympian; she dresses like a pop tart—candy-coloured bra and thong-strap on perpetual display—and uses her strength to change the diapers of the elderly invalids whose houses she cleans. Barely humouring their stubborn whims and wistful incantations of past lives and loves, Nike works for the weekend, but will settle for the evening, when she can get sauced on her balcony and make prank phone calls with downstairs neighbour Katrin, a divorced single mum suffering through job-interview workshops in her attempt to re-enter the workforce as a window dresser.

Katrin's 12-year-old son, Max, nurses a crush on a wispy classmate, along with his mum's frequent hangovers; a pair of expensive running shoes is Max's imagined answer to life's problems.

Nike and Katrin’s friendship is tested when Nike meets tattooed truck driver Ronald. Katrin takes to drinking, leaving Max to pick up the pieces.

Michelle Orange of The Village Voice observes, “Dresen canvasses the city's summer bloom—the streets and rooftops of Berlin captured in handheld 16mm—as the working-class characters negotiate urban spaces that seem like obstacles (Nike strains to catch her reflection in a bar's ill-placed bathroom mirror; a temp agency rejects Katrin for her age). Both women face impending choices with varying degrees of bravery, and the film's loose, forgiving rhythm suggests a final summer, passed in fits and starts.”

“What Summer in Berlin manages so wonderfully—in the manner of all successful humanist stories—is to portray each of its characters in an even, sympathetic light. Nike's pursuit of the heinous Ronald may seem repulsive and misguided, but she's also headstrong and sensitive, dishing it out as capably as she takes it. And Katrin's borderline incompetence as a mother is compensated for by her attempts to overcome her crippling insecurity and depression.” Jay Antani of BoxOffice magazine.

Eye for Detail
In the scene in which Nike and Ronald take Max to the bar, the man sitting in front of the window is Axel Prahl, one of director Andreas Dresen's favourite actors. Prahl has been in all of Dresen's non-documentary films from Nachtgestalten (1999) to Sommer vorm Balkon (2005)

Screenings are at 5.30pm and 8pm at Downtown Cinemas.

Members only. Palmerston North Film Society Membership is available at the door before each screening and lasts for one full year.

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