In the aftermath of having their holiday home invaded, Jan (Mark Waschke), Nina (Sabrina Timoteo) and their two children struggle to find a way back to normality as their varying points of view on the incident become chaotically tangled. From this seemingly simple premise, Ronny Trocker’s Human Factors builds an intrinsic net of domestic tension and constructed truths. 

Here, perspectives are shifted in a constant back and forth, a labyrinthian maze amplified by the camera movement, the cinematography complementing the way in which architecture is employed to instil a sense of claustrophobia. Comfort never seems to be found inside either their holiday house or their city apartment, both structures serving as vessels for continuous conflict. Even the modern, spacious advertising agency owned by the couple can’t seem to grant them room as they sell communication skills they could desperately use with each other. 

Despite its constant attempts to provoke suspense, Human Factors ultimately feels flat, a shallow exploration of familial strain that never fully finds its pace. Trocker tugs at symbolism time and time again, from the young boy’s pet rat to the constant references to xenophobia, and yet, the bets don’t seem to pay off. The latter is a sadly missed opportunity, as there was room to explore the parallel between the increasing fear of the outsider overshadowing the evident corrosion that comes from the inside. 

As Human Factors progresses, what starts as an originally interesting study of how kaleidoscopic are human perceptions, ends up as a lukewarm portrait of crumbling relationships. Instead of diving headfirst into the ever imminent breakdown, harnessing the aptly built atmosphere, the film holds back, placing its efforts on manner over matter. It is all too frustrating, as it is clear Trocker had much, much more to say. 

RATING: 2/5


INFORMATION

CAST: Mark Waschke, Sabrina Timoteo, Jule Hermann

DIRECTOR: Ronny Trocker

WRITER: Ronny Trocker

SYNOPSIS: A mysterious home invasion triggers off a shake in the core of a cosmopolitan middle-class family and unveils the fragility of truth and the power of individual perspective.

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About The Author

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Rafaela Sales Ross is a proud Brazilian currently living in Scotland. She has a Masters in Film and Visual Culture and has been diving deep into the portrait of suicide on film for a few years now. Rafa, as she likes to be called, loves Harold and Maude, The Broken Circle Breakdown, Kleber Mendonça Filho and pretty much anything with either Ruth Gordon or Javier Bardem in it. You can find her on both Twitter and Letterboxd @rafiews