The Wall

Not a re-released Pink Floyd product, rest assured, this is something else entirely. God bless this movie, it’s such a European novel! And if you’re not into that, you might really hate it. More specifically, it’s the most famous European novel by the Austrian writer Marlen Haushofer, first published in 1963 (by which time God was long dead, so He won’t be blessing anything anyway), and now adapted for film by director Julian Pölsler. While on weekend getaway at a hunting lodge in the alps, an average middle-aged woman, played by Martina Gedeck, finds herself sealed off from civilization by some strange invisible barrier. Otherwise, the days flow naturally, becoming seasons and eventually a life of solitude. With only a dog for company, at first, the woman keeps a sort of sanity-preservation diary, bits of which we hear in intimate narration. Early on she calls herself “the only creature that didn’t belong here.” We’ll see about that, the movie seems to say, furnishing a beautifully shot, nature-attuned context for her shift into a more active mode of wilderness participation. Occasionally something about the accent, and the compressed emotion, makes you wish it could be Werner Herzog doing that narration, but Gedeck is terrific. This is ultimately a solo act, and in a shrewdly inward way she commands the screen. Without showing off, Pölsler remains steadfastly committed to Haushofer’s allegorical concept; for so unabashedly bookish a movie, it’s surprisingly, refreshingly cinematic.