HEADSTRONG SILLY SMART
During the winter of 2010, when I was a German language student in Berlin, I saw the Tom Tykwer movie Drei, a social comedy about a heterosexual couple who have lived together for twenty years and who separately, and unknowingly, embark on an affair with the same man. The next day I couldn’t stop enthusing about the movie and recommended it to everyone in class. My teacher, Doris, promised to see it that weekend, so Monday morning I greeted her with a look of expectation?
Her delicate facial features hesitated, wavered between a smile and something more reflective. Then her nose scrunched up and her mouth pouted, “Es war so körperlich,” she burst out. I laughed heartily remembering the many scenes of naked bodies that graced the screen for a full two hours. The movie wasn’t Doris’s cup of tea. I put it down to a form of conservatism and didn’t think more of it.
But the film played on my mind. It wasn’t the arrangement – one woman and two men in three configurations – that intrigued me, that was of secondary interest. The reportage of life in Berlin which I was then experiencing first hand, did engage me, but something else asked to be grasped. What intrigued me was the appealing quirkiness – or what my foreign eyes saw as quirky – of the lead lady Hanna, played by Sophie Rois.
Hanna is a forty-something Berliner, attractive but not conventionally beautiful, elegant in dress but not glamorous, a cultured urbanite, a “Frau Doktor” who sits on an Ethics committee for stem cell research and is a television reporter. Her conversations are sharp, she says “quatsch” a lot.
“quatsch” = bollocks; boloney; fiddle-faddle; nonsense
In the opening scene of the movie, Hanna and her partner, Simon, are naked in bed, he on top. Simon looks into her eyes and declares, “You are dogmatic.” Without losing a beat, Hanna spurts back, “You are dogmatic. I am totalitarian.” Simon smiles quietly. “Agreed,” he says. With a push, Hanna turns him over so that she’s on top. The conversation continues.
Hanna is spirited. Mercurial, argumentative, demanding, and funny. She engages with the world intellectually but is also tuned into her body, her erotic impulses are alive. She lives with contradictions, is contrarian. Unthinkingly leaves her cell phone at home, arrives at 2am after the theatre and dinner with friends, and is totally surprised that Simon was worried about her. Her life is messy, though full.
Hollywood screen sirens, swathed in fur, flawless skin, crimson lips, glossy hair perfectly coiffed, ooze sophistication and glamour. Hanna, now pouting, there batting her eye pointedly, scurrying out of her lover’s bathroom window to escape what she doesn’t want to escape; Hanna is a different kind of character. Sophie Rois’s sparkling portrayal of a woman who is headstrong, sometimes silly, smart, vulnerable, opinionated, individual, enlarges the oeuvre of the silver screen.