A Small Gem


(Warning: There are spoilers in this review)

Television is having a Golden Period now. Fortunately, quality programs are not exclusive to the United States or Great Britain.  

I met a Berlinale film festival colleague for an evening drink. We started talking about the past festival, our dislikes then our few likes. The Berlinale is a festival where you find unintended treasures. I was reminded about one film from the Panorama section there was a screening of a Swiss TV anthology crime drama “Shock Waves”, four stories revolving around young men. Switzerland is not a country associated with violence, when I learned the festival had secured screenings two episodes of an anthology crime show from the Alps, I was skeptical, in my mind I imagined an antiseptic CSI episode of a stolen cow and milking machine gone wrong, causing social havoc came to my mind at the Saturday Press screening.

I was in walk out mode, instead I was rewarded for staying in my chair. A television crime  show better than many films at the festival.  

Episode 1.

First name: Matthieu is the brutal story of 17 year old male rape victim Matthieu Reymond.

Lionel Baier (film director and screenwriter).
Photo call and press conference of the film “Shockwaves – Diary of My Mind”.
Berlinale 2018.
Berlin, 19.02.2018.

Director/ Writer Lionel Baier does not go for the easy explicit scenes, instead untangling the story through the victim’s emotional trauma as he, his family, and country come to terms of the sadistic crime. Maxime Gorbatchevsky’s subtle wounded performance stand out along with Ursina Ladi’s as his mother who tries to go about life in denial as if nothing happened.

Based on a true story from a series of murders in Switzerland from 1981 to 1987 committed by a natural born Swiss citizen. “I met the killer in a small room in prison”. He knew he would be caught. He thinks he feels sorry, for himself and family but not able to understand to everything.”

Episode 2.

Shockwaves-Diary of my Mind explores the sudden burst of a violent act in what seemed like a normal existence.

This episode is brutal, as an American, I find the tale more relatable. Director Ursula Meier’s

Fanny Ardant (actress).
Photo call and press conference of the film “Shockwaves – Diary of My Mind”.
Berlinale 2018.
Berlin, 19.02.2018.

70 minute episode feels like watching a live feed on CNN. Why would a middle class young man murder his parents? Could a high school literature teacher have the answer? Fanny Ardant’s stands out as an emotionally wounded literature teacher in perpetual pain mode. Viewed by the police as an enabler of the perpetrator because of a writing assignment. Her closed off world is suddenly shattered by a crime a student’s horrific crime. “We do not know anything about my character. She is alone. No family”, She is at the end of her career, says Ardant. Kacey Mottet-Klein turns in a fine performance as a troubled young man plotting parricide. We spoke about the character, states Meier. We worked together in the past so we know each other.

Production values for the Swiss TV program are top. 

Screened in the Panorama section at the Berlinale in January. 

Shockwaves can be seen on Arte. Check streaming services.

#Thisberlinale18 sponsored by Canon Camera and Pringle of Scotland