Losses to Be Expected | Chicago Reader

Losses to Be Expected

Peasant women swapping recipes, a pig being slaughtered, and an elderly couple browsing at a sex shop are only some of the tawdry sights offered by Viennese filmmaker Ulrich Seidl in this 1992 chronicle of life in a pair of villages on the Czech-Austrian border. His subjects are lonely farm folks trapped in oppressive routines and haunted by memories of youthful happiness, although Paula, a Czech widow, and Sapp, an Austrian widower, may have a decent future together. Some of the scenes are obviously posed (Seidl, who shares the script credit, deliberately thumbs his nose at documentary etiquette), but the camera also peers into the rooms of dank houses in search of telling detail. Ultimately Seidl's focus on the dullness of village life, heightened by nicely composed shots of the gloomy outdoors, becomes condescending, and some of his digressions (a skinny loner dancing in the nude, a boy pushed to tears) are just plain cruel. In German and Czech with subtitles. 118 min.

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