IMDb Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0484382
Director: Reto Salimbeni
Til Schweiger …Eddie Shneider
Lauren Lee Smith …Angelina Sable
Sebastien Roberts …Anthony Birk
Stefanie von Pfetten …Judy Birk
Michael Clarke Duncan …”The General”
German production, in English language.
Something ‘different’. A very unusual take on the central theme of ‘Rape-and-Revenge’, and seamlessly interweaves several related themes of men’s betrayal of women, in corporate workplace politics, and in family-politics, in a complex plot involving several characters.
While in English language, and set in New York, this film is recognisably a German/European film in its production, direction, casting and script-writing style. It is interesting that it has performed well in Europe, but flopped in most English-speaking countries. Nonetheless, I recommend it as one with much to offer for feminist film. Those looking for standard B-grade exploitation/action will be disappointed, the rape scenes are not overly explicit, or are played out off-screen. The film opens with a short clip of a gang-rape scene in the woods, four men and one young girl, but with a twist of fantasy sequence. A black army General appears, communicating silently in glances with the girl, he machine-guns down the rapists in a gore splatter-fest, with the girl sitting thoughtful, almost satisfied, at the resulting carnage. A much more realistic rape-fantasy, the fantasy of seeing your rapists die horribly.
However, the movie then jumps to sunny New York city with the opening screen credits, and it is some time, before we understand how this brief opening scene, and the fantasy character of ‘The General’ relates to the story. The main male protagonist, Eddie Schneider (Til Schweiger) is a young advertising company executive, about to become formally engaged to marry the company boss’s daughter Judy Birk (Stefanie von Pfetten ) but Eddie is also a little two-faced slime, as he is also carrying on an affair (not his first) behind his fiancee’s back.
He also has a close, long-term platonic friendship with a co-worker in the company, Angelina Sable (Lauren Lee Smith). They are good friends, even best-friends, and joke about how she is the only woman he never did get into bed with, but nonetheless now the question has been popped to Judy with the ring – he admits his days of womanising are officially over. As Eddie and Angelina are leaving the office one night, Angelina forgets something and returns to the office alone. In the office, she is brutally raped by the boss’s son, Anthony Birk, (Sebastien Roberts), who is brother to Judy, and soon-to-be brother-in-law to Eddie.
Eddie is the first to find Angelina the next morning, and helps her to hospital, and confronts Anthony. But he quickly becomes torn apart with conflicting loyalties, as Angelina is sacked from her job for pressing charges, and Eddie is threatened by Anthony and his parents. To cover up his infidelities and protect his upcoming marriage (and his career with the company), Eddie helps free the rapist Anthony by supporting a false alibi in the court case.
Meanwhile devastated by the rape, the sacking, the second courtroom rape, and Eddies ultimate betrayal of their friendship, Angelina moves into a women’s shelter. A very sensitive, thoughtful and honest portrayal of the nightmare process she goes through, including figuring out her fantasy of ‘The General’ character. She ultimately seeks her revenge on Anthony in classic ‘I-Spit-On-Your-Grave’ fashion, and in the process kills him. His body shows up in the harbour, a male victim of an assumed kinky ‘sex- killing’.
However, at the same time Eddie is in deep trouble with his fiancée Judy over his affairs amongst many other issues, and she breaks off their engagement. Eddie is also increasingly in major conflict with Anthony, both in public and private, to the point where Eddie is ultimately charged with Anthony’s murder.
From the original male-bonding brotherhood solidarity in the first courtroom episode, (no matter how reluctantly Eddie complies with Anthony’s directions) the tables are turned somewhat, as the women characters, (including Judy, and the nun, who gives Angelina an alibi) start some female-bonding and silent sisterhood solidarity of their own.
There are several more plot twists to go in this long film at almost 2 hours. The complex relationships between the various characters make this film far more of a gripping psychological thriller, than a standard whodunnit, that kept me engaged right through to the final ‘twist’ and the credits.