The Friend | Chicago Reader

The Friend

German director Elmar Fischer makes his feature debut with this 2003 digital video about the friendship between a German college student (Antonio Wannek) and his Yemeni roommate (Navid Akhavan), who mysteriously vanishes from their Berlin apartment a few days prior to the September 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S. Jumping back and forth in time over a two-year period, Fischer shows how the strong bond between the roommates is tested as the Yemeni falls under the sway of a militant Islamic ideology. The film's elliptical structure seems little more than a device to compensate for the thin dramatic material, but it's saved by a fine ensemble cast and Akhavan's convincing transformation from a naive romantic to a disturbing reactionary. In German with subtitles. 105 min.

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