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by Elena Wolff

grade: 7.5

Asche is colourful, dazzling, overwhelming. Elena Wolff knows exactly what she wants to communicate to us, and she does so through scenes that will remain in our memory for a long, long time. At the Diagonale 2024.

In lively Linz…

For some time now, we have noticed that the young and talented cabaret artist, actress and director Elena Wolff really has a lot to say. She also showed us this on screen when, at the Diagonale 2022, she presented Para:Dies, her first feature film as director. This is why Asche, which had its world premiere at the Diagonale 2024, where it won the Prize for Best Cinematography in a Feature Film, immediately aroused the curiosity of audiences and critics alike. And, in fact, expectations have not been disappointed at all.

In Asche, in fact, Elena Wolff has not only proved her great sensitivity in investigating the human soul, but has also been particularly courageous in treating highly topical issues in a completely innovative way and in giving the images a great visual impact. But let us see specifically what the film is about.

Three couples, a solitary young man, many stories in dynamic Linz. SHE (played by Elena Wolff herself) is a fascinating model and artist. Her stage name is Lulu, but nobody knows what her real name is. Not even her boyfriend Simeon (an always excellent Thomas Schubert), an established photographer and classic alpha male who seems to have no consideration for other people, nor for his partner. Felix, at the same time, is in love with Anna, but it is as if she feels empty, strongly longing to discover new realities, to experience a new life. Elisa and Emilia, on the other hand, are two artists who seem to live a happy and harmonious relationship. Yet, they soon discover that their two personalities are no longer compatible. Jakob, finally, is madly in love with Lulu, but until now he has only observed her from afar. Will he ever get to meet her in person?

Patriarchy. Toxic relationships. Deep loneliness within a lively, cosmopolitan city. The desire to experience strong emotions to finally feel alive. A strong criticism of society, but also of the contemporary cultural scene. A desperate desire for revenge. Inside the night clubs, the lights are now blindingly bright, now too low for people to look at one another. The music is constant, the clothes immediately catch the eye. The bodies are marvellous in their diversity. There is a lot of cocaine. Asche is colourful, dazzling, overwhelming. Elena Wolff knows exactly what she wants to communicate to us, and she does it through scenes that are going to remain in our minds for a long, long time.

Not only semantically, but also visually, Asche is a film that from the very beginning attacks situations that have been established within our society for far, far too long. And it does so without fear of exaggeration, with images that are sometimes gothic, strongly pulp and occasionally even splatter. Walking in the park at night, one can easily come across a corpse. But this may also turn out to be a surprisingly pleasant encounter. With Asche, then, Elena Wolff has given us a true visual experience. Her talent and versatility seem to promise us many more nice surprises in the future. And, of course, we look forward to discovering them.

Original title: Asche
Directed by: Elena Wolff
Country/year: Austria / 2024
Running time: 90’
Genre: comedy, drama, ensemble movie
Cast: Elena Wolff, Thomas Schubert, Selina Graf, Naomi Bah, Celine Meral, Simon Kluth, Nils Svenja Thomas, Til Schindler
Screenplay: Elena Wolff
Cinematography: Nora Einwaller
Produced by: Elli Leeb

Info: the page of Asche on the website of the Diagonale; the page of Asche on the website of the sixpackfilm