Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Nothing Bad Can Happen

Dark German family drama out-Danes the Danish in Nordic bleakness.

June 25, 2014

-By Stephen Dalton


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1403278-Nothing_Bad_Md.jpg
Inspired by true events, Nothing Bad Can Happen is an unsettling contemporary drama about religious faith and sexual violence, written and directed by 30-year-old first-timer Katrin Gebbe.

Reactions at the film's official Un Certain Regard premiere at Cannes 2013 were extreme, with some booing, perhaps triggered by the queasy subject matter more than any obvious technical flaws. While hardly an upbeat date movie, Nothing Bad Can Happen is intense and gripping, with solid indie credentials. A U.S. distribution deal with Drafthouse was finalized in Cannes on screening day.

Julius Feldmeier plays Tore, a gullible but openhearted young man who has found a home with a “punk” Christian sect based in a large, ramshackle house in the northern German city of Hamburg. Though his background remains unexplained, Tore is clearly a vulnerable lost soul looking for somewhere to belong. Following a chance encounter with outwardly charming family man Benno (Sascha Gersak), which he takes to be a sign from God, Tore drifts away from the sect and slowly becomes absorbed into a new surrogate family.

But there is something rotten at the heart of this apparently normal, welcoming family unit. Benno’s short-fuse temper, disturbingly intimate behavior toward his 15-year-old tomboy daughter, Sanny (Swantje Kohlhof), and growing contempt for Tore’s religious principles push all of them into a bruising battle of wills that involves animal torture, rotting meat, prostitution and rape. The film climaxes with a torrid crescendo of psychosexual sadism and Biblical symbolism reminiscent of Lars von Trier at his most pessimistic. A German film that attains Danish levels of soul-crushing bleakness? High praise indeed.

Divided into three chapters—Faith, Love and Hope—Nothing Bad Can Happen has the jumpy camerawork, tight domestic focus and self-consciously dark subject matter that often signify a youthful debut. The midsection drags a little, when Tore seems to dither over whether to flee from Benno’s evil machinations or test his own faith by staying. A tighter edit would have helped here. All the same, Gebbe has made a robust and compelling first feature, deftly shot and ably acted, especially by its younger cast members.

The Hollywood Reporter

Click here for cast & crew information.


Film Review: Nothing Bad Can Happen

Dark German family drama out-Danes the Danish in Nordic bleakness.

June 25, 2014

-By Stephen Dalton


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1403278-Nothing_Bad_Md.jpg

Inspired by true events, Nothing Bad Can Happen is an unsettling contemporary drama about religious faith and sexual violence, written and directed by 30-year-old first-timer Katrin Gebbe.

Reactions at the film's official Un Certain Regard premiere at Cannes 2013 were extreme, with some booing, perhaps triggered by the queasy subject matter more than any obvious technical flaws. While hardly an upbeat date movie, Nothing Bad Can Happen is intense and gripping, with solid indie credentials. A U.S. distribution deal with Drafthouse was finalized in Cannes on screening day.

Julius Feldmeier plays Tore, a gullible but openhearted young man who has found a home with a “punk” Christian sect based in a large, ramshackle house in the northern German city of Hamburg. Though his background remains unexplained, Tore is clearly a vulnerable lost soul looking for somewhere to belong. Following a chance encounter with outwardly charming family man Benno (Sascha Gersak), which he takes to be a sign from God, Tore drifts away from the sect and slowly becomes absorbed into a new surrogate family.

But there is something rotten at the heart of this apparently normal, welcoming family unit. Benno’s short-fuse temper, disturbingly intimate behavior toward his 15-year-old tomboy daughter, Sanny (Swantje Kohlhof), and growing contempt for Tore’s religious principles push all of them into a bruising battle of wills that involves animal torture, rotting meat, prostitution and rape. The film climaxes with a torrid crescendo of psychosexual sadism and Biblical symbolism reminiscent of Lars von Trier at his most pessimistic. A German film that attains Danish levels of soul-crushing bleakness? High praise indeed.

Divided into three chapters—Faith, Love and Hope—Nothing Bad Can Happen has the jumpy camerawork, tight domestic focus and self-consciously dark subject matter that often signify a youthful debut. The midsection drags a little, when Tore seems to dither over whether to flee from Benno’s evil machinations or test his own faith by staying. A tighter edit would have helped here. All the same, Gebbe has made a robust and compelling first feature, deftly shot and ably acted, especially by its younger cast members.

The Hollywood Reporter

Click here for cast & crew information.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Tracks
Film Review: Tracks

Ably supported by Adam Driver, Mia Wasikowska commands the screen in John Curran’s superbly photographed drama based on a true story. More »

Hollidaysburg
Film Review: Hollidaysburg

Well-observed, empathetic look at friends reuniting over their first college break. More »

The Zero Theorem
Film Review: The Zero Theorem

A noisy, hyperkinetic, visually gorgeous spectacle that tackles the mother of all big questions–the meaning of life—Terry Gilliam's latest is sometimes frustrating and occasionally outright goofy, but it's never dull. More »

Art and Craft
Film Review: Art and Craft

Documentary portrait of the artist as a disturbed man, but one who is overwhelmingly endearing, functioning and talented—and whose métier happens to be art forgery. This smartly produced and constructed art-themed art-house entry delivers a canvas of caper, comedy and delightful curiosities that engage and provoke some serious thought. Like the hero’s forgeries, it deserves a close look. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

The Maze Runner
Film Review: The Maze Runner

Youths try to break out of a deadly maze in the latest young-adult doomsday thriller. More »

This is Where I Leave You
Film Review: This Is Where I Leave You

Siblings bond, fight and face new problems after the death of their father in an ensemble dramedy based on the best-selling novel. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here