The State I Am In




Die Innere Sicherheit : Germany 2000 : Christian PETZOLD : 106 mins

Along with his subsequent made-for-TV movie Something To Remind Me (Toter Mann, 2002), The State I’m In confirms Petzold* as one of the new decade’s most strikingly intelligent film-makers. An unclassifiable combination of teen romance, coming-of-age drama, and paranoid political thriller, the film revolves around 15-year-old Jeanne (Julia Hummer). Like many girls her age, she’s growing increasingly resentful of parental demands: who she should see, where she should go, how she should dress, etc. But for the parents – Hans (Richy Muller) and Clara (Barbara Auer) – Jeanne’s blossoming independence poses particularly pressing problems: the pair are renegades, permanently on the run from the police for unspecified reasons. All we know is that they were once part of some kind of underground organisation – perhaps a Baader-Meinhof type gang. When their money is stolen in Portugal, the family must return to the more hazardous surroundings of their native Germany, where Jeanne resumes her ‘holiday romance’ with surfer-kid Heinrich (Bilge Bingul). But this proves increasingly difficult as her parents sense the forces of Internal Security (the film’s German title) closing in.

Like Something To Remind Me, this feature – Petzold’s first ‘for-cinema’ movie – is deceptively low-key: the characters and the world they inhabit are very patiently delineated, and there are moments of frustrating slowness and/or implausibility along the way. It’s only at the very end that the pieces all fall into place and we realise the brilliance of Petzold’s screenplay, co-written with Harun Farocki. What had seemed like flaws are suddenly revealed as crucial aspects of the film’s meticulously-crafted structure – though to reveal any more about the denouement’s specifics would be cruelly unfair: this is a rewarding journey that the viewer should take alone and unguided.

3rd April, 2003
(seen 1st April, Tyneside Cinema)

click here for a full-length essay on The State I Am In (contains mild spoilers)

* Petzold (born 1960 in Hilden, Germany) made Pilotinnen (1995), Cuba Libre (1996), Die Beischlafdiebin (1998) and Something To Remind Me for television, ditto Wolfsburg, which premiered at the 2003 Berlin Film Festival.

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by Neil Young