by Sabine Koder
This tender little Lonely Together is very reminiscent of the films of the French New Wave. Similarly, the apparently superficial dialogues slowly acquire a complex depth that, combined with a meticulous introspective analysis of the characters, sees the staging of a dramatic moment told in a light, graceful way, with even welcome comic expedients.
Life as a couple
The life of a couple: joy and pain for those who live it every day. Yet, next to decidedly mismatched couples, there are also couples in whom everything works well and who could never split up. Not even because of frequent – but innocent – quarrels. This, for example, is the case of Nina and Karl, the protagonists of the feature film Lonely together (original title: Zu zweit allein), directed by Sabine Koder and which was supposed to be part of the selection of the Diagonale 2020, but which, following the cancellation of the festival, was included in the programme Diagonale 2020 – The Unfinished.
Nina (played by Eva Bay) and Karl (Tom Lass), then, have been together for many years and, although they are substantially different from each other, their relationship works. Yet the two often argue about their actual compatibility, not knowing that none of them could, in fact, live without the other. Yet one day, Nina, having had a nervous breakdown at the school where she teaches, suddenly leaves home and, taking refuge in an old camper van, befriends the lively Lou, who has been living there for several years. Karl, for his part, will never stop looking for her, thanks also to the help of a new friend of his.
Black and white and a softly coloured cinematography constantly alternate in Lonely together. And if black and white does, in fact, stand for the common past of the two protagonists, it soon also begins to symbolise a strange feeling of claustrophobia experienced by Nina before realising the importance of everyday life and the great value of her relationship with Karl.
This tender little feature by Sabine Koder is very reminiscent of the films of the French New Wave. Similarly, the apparently superficial dialogues slowly acquire a complex depth that, combined with a meticulous introspective analysis of the characters, sees the staging of a dramatic moment told in a light, graceful way, with even welcome comic expedients within it. Here, then, are moments of light-hearted freedom in which entire pizzas are stolen from the dishes of strangers and several rolls of toilet paper are unrolled inside the school where Nina works. Because, in fact, learning to grow up also means never stopping being a child and doing certain things just for fun.
And Sabine Koder, for her part, has proved to know the topic very well, here depicted with great mastery thanks also to an impeccable script and, above all, to acting performances by the actors who are perfectly capable of changing mood from one moment to the next.
And so, this Lonely together – fresh and light like a spring breeze – turns out to be a work that is able to entertain pleasantly for just under an hour and a half, but also to make one reflect, in a true hymn to life and to the importance of true values. Drawing heavily on what has already been realised in the past, Sabine Koder has managed, at the same time, to create something intimate and personal. There is always time to take things seriously. But sometimes it is also time to think about nothing, ready to change life out of the blue. Maybe even on board a camper van on its way to Italy.
Original title: Zu zweit allein
Directed by: Sabine Koder
Country/year: Germany, Austria / 2019
Running time: 82’
Cast: Eva Bay, Tom Lass, Anne Haug, Johannes Dullin, Tim Seyfi, Miguel Abrantes Ostrowski, Sophie Meinecke, Jochen Strodthoff
Screenplay: Sabine Koder
Cinematography: Noah Schuller
Produced by: Elfenholz Film