Four Minutes (2006)
Directed and written by Chris Kraus
Produced by Alexandra Kordes, Meike Kordes, Sabine Holtgreve, Chris Kraus, Bettina Ricklefs, Georg Steinert
Starring Monica Bleibtreu, Hannah Herzsprung, Richy Müller, Sven Pippig, Jasmin Tabatabai, Stefan Kurt, Vadim Glowna, Nadja Uhl
Upon the altar of his own sophomoric sensibilities, Schlondorff protege Kraus sacrificed fine performances and the promising premise of an elderly piano preceptor (Bleibtreu) convinced that she can rehabilitate a virtuoso (Herzsprung) incarcerated for murder by further nurturing and rarefying her talent. Kraus's cockamamie narrative is bloated by a peripheral subplot (at this late date, why are National Socialists still malefactors in every fifth German genre flick?), and he needlessly belabors his protagonists, heaping progressively preposterous asperities upon Herzsprung's convict that culminate in perhaps the single clumsiest, most absurd and abashing construct of a pianistic, avant-garde impromptu in cinematic history. Herzsprung's gloriously tetchy, refractory, vivacious as the embattled, peppery pianist, effortlessly hurtling laughable lines to convince her audience that she deserves this role in a superior picture. As a technically sound production that's adroitly acted and ultimately undone by miraculously daft chimerae and pretenses, this could be the archetypic contemporary German drama.