Matthias Glasner’s polished, accessible moral melodrama is less about the eponymous virtue than assorted states of guilt. Charting the fallout of a hit-and-run fatality, this gripping if ostentatiously spare film from the director of The Free Will (JDIFF 2008) boasts pristine production values and a tersely moving performance from Birgit Minichmayr (The White Ribbon).
The film is set in the remote Norwegian coastal town of Hammerfest but revolves chiefly around a German migrant family. Even the earliest peeks into the domestic life of engineer Niels (Jürgen Vogel), his nurse wife Maria (Minichmayr) and their son Markus (Henry Stange), point to a less-than-idyllic existence: interactions between the couple are politely chilly, and that’s before we learn Niels has been sleeping with attractive blonde colleague Linda (Ane Dahl Torp).
When Maria hits an unknown object on her drive home one night she fears the worst well before the news spreads that one of Markus’ schoolmates has been killed by an unidentified vehicle. Maria and Niels agree to keep mum, but guilt gnaws away at them as they become acquainted with the dead girl’s grieving parents.
Guy Lodge, Variety
Presented in co-operation with the Goethe-Institut Irland International