Whitby Film Society
"Western" Germany 2017. Director - Valeska Grisebach
Meinhard is a German construction worker and former legionnaire sent to spend the summer building a hydroelectric power plant in rural Bulgaria close to the Greek border. Within the group Meinhard feels like an outsider, so ditches his testosterone-fuelled colleagues and befriends Adrian, one of the local villagers. His fellow Germans are a parody of hyper-masculinity, spending their off-duty hours drunkenly braiding one another’s hair around a campfire, taunting women and picking fights with their new neighbours. The film is less interested in drama and plot than it is in the slow simmer of tension that threatens to boil over among the men. “We’re helping them”, says one of Meinhard’s xenophobic co-workers, incensed by the idea that their presence, signalled tactlessly by a newly hung German flag, might be unwelcome. It’s a story of economic imperialism as an assertion of male dominance, the political implications of colonisation hanging in the air like stale sweat.