Young, attractive and woefully wrong for each other, German couple Chris (Lars Eidinger) and Gitti (Birgit Minichmayr) are on an extended Sardinian vacation, where they lounge around as the Mediterranean sun slowly bakes their pale skin and curdles their uncertain love. Surrounded by natural beauty, they can only see imperfections in each other, and to a lesser extent within themselves.
At first glance the pair is comically mismatched: She, a slight and lithe spirit with an inclination toward fretting that hampers her hedonism; he, a tall, brooding entitled twerp with a deep need to sulk. She's a mid-tier music publicist, booking hotels for the Shames; he's an intense Howard Roark-styled architect whose resistance to compromise keeps him out of work.
Nothing much happens, aside from a pair of disastrous dinner dates with Chris' smug school chum and his twinkly wife, which only underscores how unhappy the lead couple really is. When Gitti wants to go to a disco, Chris instead turns on the living-room stereo and does a languid, mocking pantomime to the classic Willie Nelson/Julio Iglesias cheese ballad "To All the Girls I've Loved Before." Wow, way to let it all hang out, dude.
Everyone Else is shot in an uncomfortably close vérité style, the default setting for so many classic screen relationship dissolutions, but this is a pale cousin to Bergman or Godard. This sort of worm's-eye intimacy and realisim requires deft editing, but director Maren Ade likes to stretch things to unnatural lengths and then leave them to die. The film is well-acted, handsomely shot and dreadfully, unforgivably dull. Its failure is not in execution but imagination; what purpose is there in exposing the dirty laundry of people who remain emotionally naked and spiritually hollow? No matter how clever the filmmaking, there can be no insight when the characters themselves learn nothing. Simply put, they're a horrible mismatch, already bored and neither mature enough to stick it out and be a truly loving partner, no matter how hot the sex still is.
Everyone Else represents the tiresome hegemony of tastefulness that sometimes predominates at the Detroit Film Theatre. The film won a few Silver Bear awards at the Berlin Film Festival, and thus becomes instantly worthy of a schedule berth, regardless of such concerns as pleasing an audience. I challenge others to get something worthy from this loathsome slab of couples-therapy misery.
Showing at the Detroit Film Theatre (inside the DIA, 5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-3237) at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, July 9-10, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, July 11. It also screens at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 17, and at 4 p.m. on Sunday, July 18.
Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.