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by Josef Hader

grade: 7

In Andrea Gets a Divorce, Josef Hader’s second feature film as a director, comedy and tragedy are constantly alternating, mixing and merging within a mature and intelligent work. At the Berlinale 2024, Panorama section.


It was not many years ago that the versatile actor, cabaret artist and screenwriter Josef Hader made his directorial debut, presenting his debut film Wild Mouse in competition at the Berlinale 2017. And so, after showing Austria and the whole world his talent behind the camera, here he is again in Berlin, at the Berlinale 2024, with his second directorial work, Andrea gets a Divorce, presented as a world premiere in the Panorama section. Here too, then, as in Wild Mouse, we are faced with a comedy in which much more complex themes are dealt with than may initially seem. Here, too, Hader co-stars, this time alongside the excellent Birgit Minichmayr, also present at the Berlinale in Anja Salomonowitz‘s Sleeping with a Tiger, in which she plays the role of the revolutionary Carinthian painter Maria Lassnig.

In Andrea Gets a Divorce, therefore, Minichmayr plays the role of Andrea, a policewoman in a small rural town who dreams of finally working in the city, in order to be able to deal with far more interesting cases. She is about to be divorced and one evening, after attending the birthday party of one of her colleagues (Thomas Schubert) and once again quarrelling with her husband (Thomas Stipsits), on her way home she accidentally hits the latter with her car and kills him. Totally in shock after what happened, Andrea runs away. Only a short time later, however, Franz (Josef Hader), a teacher and former alcoholic, is accused of the accident. What to do to prevent the man from being unjustly accused?

It is not a simple situation from which Andrea Gets a Divorce starts. Important moral issues, a strong sense of guilt, but also the desire not to hurt innocent people are immediately brought into play. Comedy and tragedy are constantly alternating, mixing and merging within a mature and intelligent work. Josef Hader has been perfectly able to handle all this without ever exaggerating or relying on dangerous clichés, and every joke, every paradoxical situation is always perfectly appropriate. Contributing to this success is not only a strong and flawless screenplay, but also an excellent cast (among which it is worth mentioning the excellent Maria Hofstätter and Margarethe Tiesel) and sometimes alienating, claustrophobic locations that, paradoxically, can also sometimes convey a deep sense of agoraphobia. Just as it happens, in a perfect elliptical structure, at the opening and in the end of the feature film.

It is all these elements, therefore, that make Andrea gets a Divorce a noteworthy feature film. Hilarious moments that alternate well with highly dramatic scenes. Facial expressions that are worth a thousand words. A coffee-maker making coffee in the Italian style. A country road that could also mean the only way to freedom. Josef Hader has paid attention to every single detail and with this interesting Andrea gets a Divorce, he even seems to have matured further (from a directorial point of view, of course) than a few years ago. And who knows how many more beautiful surprises he will give us in the future!

Original title: Andrea lässt sich scheiden
Directed by: Josef Hader
Country/year: Austria / 2024
Running time: 93’
Genre: comedy, drama
Cast: Birgit Minichmayr, Josef Hader, Thomas Schubert, Robert Stadlober, Thomas Stipsits, Branko Samarovski, Maria Hofstätter, Marlene Hauser, Margarethe Tiesel, Wolfgang Hübsch, Dominik Warta, Michael Pink, Karl Leopold Furtlehner, Gerhard Haubenberger, Michael Edlinger, Markus Meyer, Norbert Prammer, Julia Schranz, Manuel Sefciuc, Magdalena Plöchl, Levi Polak, Paul Hader, Wolfgang Steinacher, Magdalena Schartmüller
Screenplay: Josef Hader, Florian Kloibhofer
Cinematography: Carsten Thiele
Produced by: Golden Girls Filmproduktion, WEGA Filmproduktion

Info: the page of Andrea gets a Divorce on iMDb; the page of Andrea gets a Divorce on the website of the Berlinale; the page of Andrea gets a Divorce on the website of Josef Hader