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by Wolfgang Murnberger

grade: 7.5

No one is really innocent in Life eternal. And even if past faults come to the surface, we gradually discover that those whom we initially considered to be completely negative, also have a tender and friendly nature after all.

Simon Brenner back in Graz

Here we go again. A good six years after the release of The Bone Man – made in 2009 and the third chapter of the saga dedicated to detective Simon Brenner – the multi-talented Josef Hader returns in the role of the now legendary private detective in the fourth and (at least for now) final chapter of the story, Life eternal. This time too – as in the previous feature films – the direction was entrusted to Wolfgang Murnberger, this time too the screenplay – by Murnberger himself together with Josef Hader and Wolf Haas – is based on Haas’s novel of the same name.

In this final chapter, then, Simon Brenner returns to his home town, Graz, in order to move into a small house he has just inherited. Here, now jobless and in serious financial difficulty, he meets Köck (played by Roland Düringer), an old friend from his youth who now works as an antiquarian and tries to sell him an old pistol that was part of a kit that was once given to police trainees. But what secrets does this gun conceal? The arrival on the scene of Aschenbrenner (Tobias Moretti), himself a former friend of the two, will inevitably complicate things and also bring back old secrets.

With its tragic-comedy touch, Life eternal continues the trend that began with the successful Come sweet Death (2000) thanks to the paradoxical misadventures of Simon Brenner, complete with unbearable migraines that are ruining his already difficult days. And if, at first, a gunshot may seem to be the only possible solution, an opportunity will immediately arise to shed light on things, discovering, each time, new elements concerning one’s past.

Life eternal explores, if you like, even deeper than previous features on themes such as life, death and friendship. And Wolfgang Murnberger’s own gaze seems, here, more mature than ever. In fact, alongside comic-grotesque situations such as, for example, the moments involving Brenner’s intrusive neighbour, there are much more contemplative and melancholic moments (see, above all, the conversation between Brenner and Aschenbrenner near the famous Clock Tower in Graz), as well as adrenalin-filled scenes and thrilling chases. And while Aschenbrenner is about to chase a terrified Brenner in his car as he flees through the city streets on his scooter (and here Murnberger’s direction becomes more dynamic than ever, revealing its full potential), a huge poster with a photo of the “perfect Styrian” Arnold Schwarzenegger somehow reassures the audience by making them smile.

No one is really innocent in Life eternal. And even if past faults come to the surface (with flashbacks showing a robbery that Brenner himself and his friends had carried out in his youth), we also gradually discover that those whom we had initially considered to be completely negative, also have a tender and friendly nature after all.

We do not know, to this day, whether the adventures of Detective Brenner will have a further sequel (in fact, to date, there are no less than eight novels by Wolf Haas dedicated to him). And yet, thinking back over the entire film saga, this Life eternal would ideally be classified as a very good conclusion. A conclusion in which the protagonist comes to terms with his past, while also learning how best to deal with his present, thanks to a deep and never predictable introspective investigation and a good script that successfully mixes suspense elements and numerous narrative twists, also supported by the excellent performances of the cast, especially of Josef Hader and Tobias Moretti.

Original title: Das ewige Leben
Directed by: Wolfgang Murnberger
Country/year: Austria / 2015
Running time: 123’
Genre: comedy, mistery, noir
Cast: Josef Hader, Tobias Moretti, Nora von Waldstätten, Roland Düringer, Christopher Schärf, Margarete Tiesel, Johannes Silberschneider, Hary Prinz, Sasa Barbul, Monika Klengel, Gabriela Hiti, Stefan Suske, Thomas Stipsits, Carmen Loley, Thomas Frank, Lorenz Kabas, Helene Stupnicki, Harry Lampl, Laurence Rupp, Wolfgang Rauh, Christian Strasser, Marija Barbul, Radisa Barbul, Martin Horvath, Wolf Haas
Screenplay: Josef Hader, Wolfgang Murnberger, Wolf Haas
Cinematography: Peter von Haller
Produced by: Dor Film

Info: the page of Life eternal on iMDb; the page of Life eternal on the website of the Dor Film