My Brother's Name Is Robert and He Is an Idiot, the review of the film in competition at the Berlin Festival 2018
My Brother's Name Is Robert and He Is an Idiot, the review of the film in competition at the Berlin Festival 2018, It is not altogether absurd or paradoxical that a film all philosophically focused on the concept of time - the past, the future, the time that we can not know, that present that is impossible to grasp and crystallize - lasts the beauty of 174 minutes.

It is therefore not the duration, the problem of Philip Gröning's My Brother's Name, that of The Great Silence and The Wife of the Policeman. It is this time that the German's ambitions resulted in a suspect and irritating film for the smug pang of storytelling and staging.

It's hard not to think of Terrence Malick, from the first minutes of a film all shot in the fields and forests of southern Germany, on the border with Switzerland and France, where the twins Robert and Elena spend what could be - at least symbolically - their last weekend together. A weekend that marks the end of an important and symbiotic phase of their life.

Wrapped in the grass, in the heat of the summer, Elena must study for the final exam of philosophy that will allow her to go to the University leaving Robert and the campaign.
Robert, who is not interested in studying in the bourgeois sense, but to philosophy yes, helps him in exchange for a constant supply of beers, helps and teases her.

To his constant and childish provocations, and to the jealousy he feels for a friend with whom his brother may have been in bed, Elena answers with a bet: his new Golf if he can not lose his virginity on that same weekend.

Malick, yes, with nature, the first floors, the animals (here a cricket, the only bearable creature in the landscape): but a Calvinist Malick, and sentimentally and sexually immature, rigid and romantic and ruthless as only in German culture can you be .

And then Malick would never put it there like that, the service station in the void around which Philip and Elena gravitate like moths around a lamp, and which will end up turning around more and more tightly. Or at least not like that, not with the symbolic load of Gröning, even with that hostile violence: since it is obvious that Gröning looks at young rabies.

Violence, yes, but tenderness in the relationship between these two twins linked almost (?) Incestuously, morbidly, passionately. The violence of thought, rigorous and intransigent, of the inevitability of things; the tenderness of feeling, passionate and chaotic, and inconceivable. Alright then.

Less good that Robert does nothing but talk about time, to explain, citing St. Augustine, Brentano and Heidegger and then go to tease like a child sister, which also provokes in turn, as it causes patrons and managers of the station service, capricious and unprejudiced, only to continue to hold and keep close to his brother, in a game of power and submission that does not end and that exhausts.

Less obvious is the obvious obviousness with which, at a certain point, the film begins to play with the impossible doublings of its two protagonists, to stage metaphorical separations, constant clues to the looming destiny that will separate the two. Elegant in form, perhaps, but heavy in content.

Because in the end everything is much simpler than that: time can be explained, you can do philosophy above, but you can never control it. The present never remains so forever. And if thinking is acting, and acting is seeking happiness, there are things against which there is little to do and think. Happiness remains unattainable, the manifestation of things and the truth of time and life is inevitable.

As inevitable it is also the sinking of the film under the brash weight of his ambitions, and the annoyance for the stubborn insistence, capricious, irritating of the director and his young protagonists.

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