See our Best of Detroit 2020 winners.

Wednesday, September 7, 2005

The Edukators

Posted By on Wed, Sep 7, 2005 at 12:00 AM

When the symbols of political counterculture are sold at Urban Outfitters and ’60s activists now work for corporate middle management, just how does a modern day revolutionary get taken seriously? Such is the dilemma for Jan (Daniel Brühl), Peter (Stipe Erceg) and Jule (Julia Jentsch), three young would-be rebels in Hans Weingartner’s well-intentioned but hopelessly didactic film, The Edukators.

Set in Berlin, Jan and Peter launch nighttime commando missions into enemy territory (i.e. the suburbs). Breaking into mansions of the vacationing rich, they rearrange their furniture and leave notes that read: “You have too much money” or “Your days of plenty are numbered.” Their goal is to strike some good ol’ fear into the heart of the unfeeling modern aristocracy.

When Peter leaves town, Jan volunteers to help his girlfriend, Jule, repaint her apartment. Of course, the two become attracted to one another and it isn’t long before he’s involved her in his anti-establishment raids on wealthy villas. Complications ensue when they impulsively decide to vandalize the home of Hardenberg (Burghart Klaussner), a wealthy executive who’s wronged Jule. When he returns unexpectedly and walks in on the trio, they’re forced to kidnap him and retreat to a mountain cabin where the inevitable life lessons about the costs of capitalism, dissident behavior and free love are learned.

There are some interesting and important issues on hand, but Weingartner can’t decide what kind of story he wants to tell. Far too earnest and one-note to excel as social drama and too rambling and amiable to offer any real suspense, the movie lacks both visceral and intellectual impact.

That’s not to say it should be completely dismissed, however. Weingartner is good at winning our affection for his characters and their sloppy idealism. The gifted cast is appealing and attractive, infusing the story with an endearing vigor. Bruhl has a scruffy charm that expands upon the clean-scrubbed persona he displayed in Ladies In Lavender and Goodbye, Lenin! Erceg balances his charisma with a hint of menace. Best of all is paunchy Klaussner as the SDS radical turned corporate fat cat. With his inscrutable smirks and sympathetic gestures, he masterfully conveys the tired wisdom of a man who has sold out his ideals.

By depicting political anarchy as airy and consequence-free, The Edukators undermines itself and ultimately begs for something meatier. The film needs a director like Lars von Trier (Dancer In The Dark, Dogville) or Michael Haneke (The Piano Teacher) to give it a sense of the unpredictable or irreverent. Weingartner comes close to redeeming himself with a surprisingly cynical twist at the end, but without any real personal cost, it’s too little too late.

 

In German with English subtitles. Showing at the Main Art Theatre (118 N. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-263-2111).

Jeff Meyers writes about film for MetroTimes. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

Tags:

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 21, 2020

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit