Director Gotz Spielmann follows his acclaimed thriller Revanche with this visually captivating character study, in which a family reunion at a mountainside inn lays bare old wounds and reveals long-held secrets.
Contemporary World Cinema
Following his internationally acclaimed thriller Revanche, Götz Spielmann returns in top form with Oktober November, a visually captivating, character-driven study of family, hard-won self-knowledge, and loss.
A masterful sculptor of complex narratives, Spielmann introduces his characters one by one, blending together their personal histories and fraught relationships, allowing them to converge under the roof of the Berger family's mountainside inn.
Sonja (Nora von Waldstätten) is an actress living in the city who revels in her fame, a defense mechanism that belies the mounting anxieties fostering her identity crisis. Caught in a closed circuit of two-dimensional acting roles and a promiscuous lifestyle, she stands in sharp contrast to her older sister, Verena (Ursula Strauss), who has nobly remained at their family home to tend to their ailing father. Yet Verena shares Sonja's habit of internalizing her conflicts. Her seemingly tranquil and rewarding domestic life — complete with devoted husband and obedient child — obscures her affair with the handsome local doctor Patrick (Sebastian Koch, The Lives of Others). As this family reunion goes on, old wounds will be exposed, sibling rivalries will resurface — and secrets will be revealed.
Oktober November continues Spielmann's
fruitful collaboration with cinematographer
Martin Gschalcht, framing their protagonists
in earthy, contemplative tableaux.
Within this cinematic capsule, themes of
identity, mortality, and responsibility take
root, in synch with the tempered rhythms
of the surrounding nature. Very much an
actor's director, Spielmann flushes out
the many layers in von Waldstätten and
Strauss's performances, (re)building a family
portrait through the camera's meticulous
observation of moments, gestures, and the
silence that separates each family member
from the others.