West (15)

Directed by Christian Schwochow
Picturehouse, Liverpool
12th June - 18th June 2015

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

The most notable aspect of this film is the charismatic performance by Jordis Triebel, who plays the part of Nelly, a mother who, with her young son Alexei, crosses the Berlin Wall in 1978, during the Cold War, to seek a new life in West Germany away from the tyranny of the East.

She did so by pretending to be the wife of a West German with an exit visa.

In reality her legal husband, Wassillj, a Russian physicist, had left on loving terms with his wife and son, to travel to a scientific conference in Moscow, which is a touching scene.

Nelly never sets eyes on him again, after he had apparently disappeared and was presumed dead.

She and Alexei end up holed up in a refugee centre, and although she is highly experienced in the scientific field, has little prospect of gaining paid employment.

West Germany is not the place of freedom as she expected. She suffers similar torment, as in the East, of the feeling of being spied upon and subject to red tape and discrimination.

The Allied Secret Service repeatedly question her as to the mysterious disappearance of Wassillj. Following these sessions she begins to question whether he is still alive and if he was a spy. This leads to her becoming ultra-paranoid and not trusting anyone, even those who are warmhearted towards her.

The closing scene comes as a disappointing anti-climax, after the enthralling nature of what had preceded it - a film which was evocative in a number of ways and very well acted by all concerned.

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