Der Schutzengel stands out immediately for its evocative noir atmospheres, for places almost isolated from the rest of the world and for an intelligent and never predictable reflection on the nature of human beings. Götz Spielmann’s unmistakable approach did the rest. At the Diagonale’22.
Director Götz Spielmann is one of the most prominent names within contemporary Austrian cinema. His films have always been characterised by a sophisticated aura of mystery mixed with subtle eroticism, as well as a great ability to investigate the human psyche. This was the case with feature films such as Revanche (2008) and Antares (2004) – just to give a few examples – as well as with the recent Der Schutzengel, part of the ORF-Landkrimi series and premiered at the Diagonale’22.
In a small village in Lower Austria, the corpse of a woman, presumably drowned, is found in a pond. She is Fanny (Susi Stach), who works as a maid for an elderly and wealthy lady. Soon, however, it is discovered that the woman has been murdered. Chief Inspector Paul Werner (Fritz Karl) and his young colleague Martin (Michael Steinocher) will have to investigate what has happened. This will reveal a series of intrigues and unsuspected secrets that will also involve the mysterious disappearance of Martin’s fiancée twelve years earlier. A necklace with a pendant in the shape of an angel, a guardian angel, will play a particularly important role.
Perfectly following in the tradition of Austrian and German detective stories made since the 1970s, Der Schutzengel stands out immediately for evocative noir atmospheres, for places almost isolated from the rest of the world and for an intelligent and never predictable reflection on the nature of human beings. Götz Spielmann’s unmistakable approach did the rest.
Past and present meet again and again in Der Schutzengel. Short footage from the past keeps coming back in the present. A love ended too soon. A large villa that will soon be sold. The philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. Götz Spielmann has skilfully managed all these elements in a refined and aesthetically elegant detective story. Der Schutzengel is a television film, yet it does not look like it was made for television at all. Intense close-ups, details, a forest guardian of the most incredible secrets, which immediately takes on a deeply symbolic meaning, make this important feature film a true gem within the famous ORF-Landkrimi series.
Der Schutzengel is a complex, impeccably written feature film with an excellent cast. Götz Spielmann has once again not disappointed expectations, making a well-structured and never predictable film, in which the human being with all his beliefs, desires and weaknesses is observed with care, humanity and respect.
Original title: Der Schutzengel
Directed by: Götz Spielmann
Country/year: Austria / 2022
Running time: 89’
Cast: Fritz Karl, Michael Steinocher, Oliver Rosskopf, Michael Rotschopf, Nicole Heesters, Susi Stach, Margarete Tiesel
Screenplay: Götz Spielmann
Cinematography: Andre Mayerhofer
Produced by: Superfilm Filmproduktion, ORF, ZDF