All Good Review: LIFF 2018

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When we say ‘I’m fine’, we usually mean the exact opposite, but we say it anyway because we want to protect ourselves from revisiting the pain or from transferring it to another person. The internalisation of emotions and hiding of trauma is the main thesis statement of Eva Trobisch’s film Alles Ist Gut (All Good), which is a nerve-wracking psychological study into the rejection of victimhood.

Janne (Aenne Schwarz) is a modern, independent, strong-willed woman who approaches life with the attitude that if you do not admit there is a problem, then it does not exist, even if the problem at hand is rape. Janne befriends a tall, lanky, bespectacled man Martin (Hans Löw) at a school reunion and they drunkenly dance the night away. Out of the kindness of her intoxicated heart, Janne invites Martin to stay the night on her couch, but what she means as a polite gesture Martin views as an invitation for intimacy. When Janne politely refuses, Martin forces himself on her and rapes her. In Hollywood, scenes of sexual assault are usually depicted in extreme and sometimes violent ways, but with Trobisch’s restrained naturalism guiding the direction the scene is unsensational, lasting only a few seconds with the audience forced to painfully watch in complete silence.

Trobisch’s direction of the film focuses heavily on the silence in scenes, with the entire film undisrupted by score or sound effects and very minimal dialogue. When Janne and Piet interact, there is a quiet comfortable magnetism that suggests complete trust in each other. However, when Janne returns from her weekend away and realises that in her new position she must work alongside Martin, her resilience and denial of her victimhood begins to falter and the silences become unnerving. It feels as though the moments of quiet are straining under the weight of that which is unsaid between Janne and those surrounding her. You find yourself willing her to cry out, scream, shout, be angry and express how much Martin has hurt her, but instead she projects her desire for help and comfort by focusing on fixing those around her.

All Good is not a title that will resonate with many to begin with, but as it echoes throughout the film, each time loaded with more pain and denial on the part of Janne, the power of the phrase will be made obvious. It could be argued that a woman refusing to be defined by her experiences and renouncing her victimhood is a powerful response, but this picture of unreleased trauma also portrays a kind of self-harming and irrational behaviour that eventually causes more harm to Janne.

Arriving at the height of the #MeToo movement in Hollywood, this film brings a no-frills approach to sexual assault and will be one to inspire debate among film-goers everywhere. With unnerving and dark humour, the film was captivating and enjoyable whilst still shedding light on the deceptiveness of appearances. All Good provides a refreshing new approach to the depiction of sexual assault in cinema.

Emily Parry

Image Courtesy of Locarno Film Festival