A review of “The Edukators” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: *** 1/2

Rating: Rated R for sexuality and language

Run Time: 2 hours, 6 minutes. In German with English subtitles.

 

 

A trio of contemporary revolutionaries is the focus of this enigmatic German thriller that’s a runaway hit in its native land.

What are the idealistic young to do when no one is taking notice of their anti-capitalist stance?  In the case of Jan (Daniel Brühl) and Peter (Stipe Erceg) a bold social statement is in order: breaking into swanky homes and creatively re-arranging the furniture and high-priced electronics.  Their calling card:  a simple sign that reads “Your Days of Plenty are Numbered”.

Peter’s girlfriend Jule (Julia Jentsch) completes the ardent triumvirate, waitressing at an upscale eatery and struggling under a massive amount of debt. United by their passion for change Jule and Jan begin to develop feelings for one another.

The spark of the pair’s attraction takes a nasty turn when Jule and Jan break into the home of a wealthy executive to whom Jule is financially indebted due to a previous traffic accident.  Fueled by fervor and resentment the young perpetrators impetuously cross the line and are caught red-handed.

What begins as a mild-mannered protest against inequality turns criminal.  Quick as a wink our pouty leftists are forced into an impromptu kidnapping that will impact them all in unexpected ways.

Edukators is a mixed bag of style and ethics, fluidly formed into an entertaining and thought-provoking whole.  The social debates fly fast and furiously – on politics, history, and democracy – while the love triangle unfolds furtively and with heightened urgency. 

Brühl is stunning as the sexy radical who burns with the fire of his convictions.  A dogmatic nostalgia for the extremist days of yore (in the form of rather lengthy diatribes) slows the pace at awkward intervals but the inventive conclusion is a taut and memorable explanation point.