Written by: Johan Fundin on November 16th, 2007
Approximate running time: 89 mins
Aspect Ratio (Video format): 1.85:1
Director: Christian Petzold
Producer: Florian Koerner von Gustorf
Screenplay: Simone Baer, Christian Petzold
Cinematography: Hans Fromm
Cast: Nina Hoss, Devid Striesow, Hinnerk Schönemann, Burghart, Klaußner, Barbara Auer.
Yella is the latest in a row of masterpieces that has come out of Germany in recent time (Requiem, The Life of Others, etc.).
Winner of the Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival 2007 for Best Actress (Nina Hoss).
Nominated for the Silver Bear at the BIFF 2007 for Best Director (Christian Petzold)
After sitting through the film experience called Yella – the latest hit the has emerged from the German film industry – the viewer will inevitably ask him or herself a series of questions:
What kind of movie is this? A thriller? A drama? A romance? A horror? The answer is: Pretty much a blend of most genres.
Yella (marvellously played by award-winning Nina Hoss) is a young and attractive jobseeker with qualifications in corporate finance. She lands a job in the big city of Hanover – a train journey away from her sleepy though idyllic hometown. But it is not without trouble that Yella tries to break away from her past to start a new life as a businesswoman. Her violent ex-husband Ben keeps harassing and threatening her, and stalks her all the way to Hanover where he breaks into her rented hotel room and beats her up.
Or does he?
Yella, at the offset a victim of the circumstances – exposed to violence from an ex-husband and forced to sex with her new boss – discovers the shady side of the business and is drawn into a vibrant relationship with crooked finance man Philipp. Sooner than she could have imagined, Yella discovers that Philipp’s temper is not too different to that of Ben…But even more frightening, what is actually going on in Yella’s head? What has she become? And what is that repeating noise that echoes through her head?
Director Christian Petzold lets his camera wander about on an experimental tour-de-force: Weird gialloesque shooting angles, rapid close-ups, long tracking shots, especially in the opening scenes where all focus is on Nina Hoss’s character. Two fabulous train sequences in the opening 20 minutes stand out. The thoughts are leading to the opening of Argento’s Sleepless: A paranoid woman seemingly completely alone on a train – no ticket collector, no other passengers or very few. That is how Petzold’s camera captures Yella in a series of glorious, stylish shots involving semi-nudity. Yella seems to be the only passenger on board. Then she seems to be the only person at the Hanover train station. She walks through a deserted city to her hotel where she is temporarily staying during the initial phase of her appointment. In the hotel – also apparently desserted with the exception of an arrogant receptionist – she meets Philipp, who happens to be one of the other guests.
From their first encounter in the next to empty hotel restaurant there is a spark of attraction between Yella and Philipp. He asks her if she would like to join him in a finance meeting. Philipp says he needs an assistant .
Definitely one of the best German movies of 2007, Yella is a must-see for art house fans who is looking for the twisted supernatural. It’s a film that will keep viewers guessing until the very end.