Directed by: Maren Ade
Written by: Maren Ade
Starring: Birgit Minichmayr, Lars Eidinger, Hans-Jochen Wagner, and Nicole Marischka
A fear of the bourgeoisie lifestyle has infiltrated European cinema for decades. It surfaced most prominently in the American mainstream with The Graduate, but it’s still a very European ideal, and one that the deliberately paced, intensely independent film Everyone Else focuses on with a new twist.
The film was written and directed by the little known Maren Ade and also stars a cast of complete unknowns; a testament to their talent when you see how good this movie actually is. It’s handling of the complex, almost undefinable emotional feelings of its characters is something most American films cannot hope to touch on.
When Gitti (Birgit Minichmayr) and Chris (Lars Eidinger) go on vacation and end up redefining both themselves and their relationship, you get the sense of watching something real. There’s no stylistic gimmick; no flashing between the beginning and the end like Blue Valentine. Ade’s intentions with her screenplay and her film are about conveying the societal constructions of gender and then taking them into nature and ripping them down.
The beautifully written conversations at the beginning of the movie reveal the sporadic urges and tendencies of this couple. They are on vacation at Chris’ parents’ villa, and when work or friends from Germany threaten the couple’s peace they often flee. Chris is stuck stationary in life, something Gitti isn’t afraid to point out. His masculinity is threatened, not by her but by his own perception of himself and his “friend” Hans (Hans-Jochen Wagner).
Hans is a macho stereotype, one that Ade doesn’t even try to develop into something more. Chris can’t say “No,” to him or his invitations to dinner, but Gitti can. She stands up to his mockery, embarrassing Chris and driving a wedge between them.
It’s after that scene, when Gitti walks around a department store and is given a makeover by a friendly clerk, that we see she in an identity crisis too. She’s also afraid to say “No,” preferring to walk out onto the street and wipe the makeup off afterward. Both of them are in a somewhat similar identity shift, but neither can help the other.
The Mediterranean locales offer beautiful vistas for these Germans to get complicated in. As the often half-naked stars explore the sun-drenched mountain trails, they are captured by the camera almost effortlessly. In one important scene, Gitti has given up hiking/trying to reason with Chris, and sits down on a rocky edge. We see him in the background, looking down, but it’s the distance between them that occupies most of the frame. This is the perfect image for that moment as well as the entire film. They are like a beach and the tide, consistently drifting apart but always going back together again. In that respect, if in no other way, they are like everyone else.