Air is a thoroughly multisensory experience that will really reward those willing to surrender to and embrace a storytelling approach that embodies the ‘show don’t tell’ maxim to the extreme. The near dearth of explicit exposition is at first unsettling – it feels a little like you’ve walked in five minutes late and missed something crucial – but with a bit of patience this becomes a unique virtue.
Air is deeply evocative, seemingly unfolding from within protagonist Manja’s (Paula Hüttisch) point of view, allowing us to watch others as an observant wallflower. Manja’s is a heightened teenage world, where the grip of her infatuation with Louk (Lara Feith) sees her suddenly start behaving far more boldly. Though Louk may at first appear to be a Euro-flavoured manic pixie dream girl, the strength of her characterisation and backstory, alongside Feith’s suitably magnetic performance, ensure she transcends this trope. And it’s not all existential teen angst; Air engages with aging, grieving and mental illness, creating sensitive, believable portraits even in the periphery characters.
As the two girls grow closer, Julian Krubasik’s cinematography, particularly in tight close-ups, is charged with feeling and longing that goes beyond latent sexual desire. Air never reductively defines the beauty of this connection with unnecessary labels, instead allowing Manja and Louk’s relationship to play out in a largely dialogue-free final act. The film’s mournful tone – and oppressively cold colour palette of blues and greys – gets a lift as the young women find solace and strength with each other.
Air is unassuming yet quietly compelling, featuring performances from Hüttisch and Feith which speak volumes visually instead of linguistically. Its delicately evocative style may frustrate some attention spans, but, given the attentiveness it deserves, Air is a beautiful piece of cinema that weaves a lovely story of trust, friendship and love.
CAST: Paula Hüttisch, Anna Brodskaja–Bomke, Lara Feith, Peter Cieslinski, Jakob D’Aprile
DIRECTOR: Anatol Schuster
WRITERS: Anatol Schuster, Britta Schwem
SYNOPSIS: Louk is deep as the sea. Manja is pure as the air. Her love means: No fear. No lie. No trace.[TRAILER FORTHCOMING]