The Edukators

Director: Hans Weingartner

Germany-Austria| 2004. English subtitles. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 126 min

Hans Weingartner’s The Edukators is a fresh and likeable tale of youthful idealism. Boosted by a standout performance by Daniel Bruhl, vigorously shot in a hand-held style, and deftly combining different genre elements—a mild political polemic and Jules and Jim-like love-triangle motifs among them—it is bound to appeal to audiences who savoured Good Bye, Lenin!
Jan (Bruhl), Jule (Julia Jentsch) and Peter (Stipe Erceg) are three young would-be radicals who want to change the world. Jan and Peter are already taking direct action. In Situationist-style stunts, they break into the houses of wealthy families, daub graffiti on their walls and rearrange their possessions. Jule, Peter’s girlfriend, ekes out an existence as a waitress and struggles to pay off an enormous debt incurred when she crashed her uninsured car into a wealthy businessman’s Mercedes. Jule is initially suspicious of Jan, but when he helps to redecorate her apartment the two strike up a rapport. Jan also helps her break into the house of Herr Hardenberg (Burghart Klaussner), the businessman whose car she wrecked. They wreak merry havoc, but when they make their escape she leaves her mobile behind. This necessitates a return visit. Unfortunately, when they break in the second time, Hardenberg comes home. They cosh him on the head, kidnap him and with Peter in tow head up to hide in a mountain cabin.
The pivotal scene is the kidnapping. Just for a moment, the film darkens as the three radicals are suddenly obliged to resort to real violence. Here, the narrative threatens to stall as Weingartner seems to have manoeuvred himself into a hole. His trick is to fill us in on the back-story of the businessman. In addition, the use of one of Jeff Buckley’s most haunting songs and an ingenious final reel twist ensure that The Edukators finishes on an affecting and upbeat note.

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