Franziska Schlotterer’s feature debut, Closed Season, is a well-crafted and visually atmospheric wartime drama that takes place in the German Black Forest. A boorish farmer Fritz (Hans-Jochen Wagner) and his wife, Emma (Brigitte Hobmeier) yearn for a child but he is infertile. When Albert, a young Jewish refugee, arrives on their doorstep, he is offered sanctuary for ulterior motives.
At first Emma is appalled at the idea of harbouring an illegal Jewish man. But once she gets to know Albert (Chrisian Friedel) and his cultured ways with literature and classical music she is seduced and acquiesces to her husband’s plan to use him as a surrogate father. Intoxicating chemistry between the three of them creates some emotional scenes (particularly when Fritz eavesdrops on their lovemaking) and much soul-searching and further suspense is provided by visits from a local Nazi friend (Thomas Loibl) of the family.
This engaging narrative s neatly enveloped inside a seventies reunion in Israel where a young German man, Bruno (Max Mauff) arrives in a kibbutz to deliver a letter from his dead mother to the father he never met. Avi (the former Albert) is reticent to accept his former life but eventually acknowledges his son.
As wartime dramas go Closed Season is a slim but nevertheless an engaging one with believable performances from the largely unknown cast. With shades of Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon and even Lore, the study of human dynamics between the desperate characters in contrast to the gentle farm setting is the most rewarding element MT
CLOSED SEASON IS SHOWING AT THE UK JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL on 6 NOVEMBER AT TRICYCLE, LONDON AND 17 NOVEMBER AT 10.30 AT ODEON SWISS COTTAGE tickets here