“I think he was already far away by then.”
Set in 1927, the German film Love in Thoughts (Was Nutzt die Liebe ) is based on a true story of a suicide pact arranged between two young men. The events in the film take place over just a few days, and the story begins when wealthy student Guenter (August Diehl) takes home budding poet Paul (Daniel Bruhl) for the weekend. Paul is attracted to Guenter’s sister, Hilde (Anna Marie Muhe), but Guenter and Hilde are both rivals for Hans, a coarse blond cook (Thure Lindhardt). Over the course of the weekend, one long party and a considerable amount of Absinthe later, Guenter disintegrates and sinks into depression.
The film is visually stunning. The idyllic house is picture perfect–set in fields of golden grass next to a shimmering lake. The juxtaposition of the decadence of the wild young set next to the serene beauty of nature is more than jarring–the effect is deeply disturbing. There’s an underscored feeling of something dreadful lurking just beneath the surface.
The Weimar period is always a fascinating era–a brief glimpse of Germany in between the madness of two wars. It’s nicely recreated here with ennui, decadence and excessive Romanticism. But in spite of the film’s beauty, and the interesting background story, somehow the film fails to inspire. It’s not so much that the characters are unpleasant–but more that they are flat and rather uninteresting. While the young Guenter and Hilde whoop it up on their family’s estate, and raid the family wine cellar, they are not portrayed strongly enough as individuals to generate much interest. They could be any teenagers from any era running amuck while their parents are off somewhere else. The fact that the three main characters are basically blanks, results, ultimately, in only a vague interest in their fate. In German with English subtitles, the film is from director Achim von Borries.