Opening May 11, 2017
Directed by: Volker Schlöndorff
Writing credits: Volker Schlöndorff, Colm Tóibín
Principal actors: Stellan Skarsgård, Nina Hoss, Bronagh Gallagher, Susanne Wolff, Niels Arestrup
Max’s (Skarsgård) trip to New York is two-fold: a book tour, and to reunite with his wife. Clara (Wolff) introduces him to friends, while helping the public relation’s Lindsey (Isi Laborde-Edozien) when possible – they get along well. At his novel’s core is déjà-vu that is exacerbated by meeting Walter (Arestrup). Happy to see an old friend – a link to Max’s past and Rebecca (Hoss) – Walter provides an opening. Then, a chance presents itself to accompany Rebecca to Montauk, where circumstances intervene, (and the film goes south.) The past rushes forward like the tide, swirling around them. Like the tide, when it recedes the beach is clear.
The film’s strength is Skarsgård’s formidable, finely contrasted performance. Wolff is so good, it accentuates Hoss’ stilted stodginess, especially in Montauk. Which is where Volker Schlöndorff’s direction falters, becoming perfunctory. Schlöndorff should have used sound design a propos the attention-grabbing opening credits instead of that laborious music, too. Hervé Schneid mistakenly did not cut 8-10-minutes more footage; Jérôme Alméras’ cinematography is solid.
Audiences might overlook Hoss’ performance if she was not the central character. Whatever were Amy Rowan and Cornelia von Braun (casting) thinking? Loosely based on Swiss writer Max Frisch’s Montauk story, the rest of the cast is stellar. Rückkehr nach Montauk is about how the fall out from going back can have an unforeseen outcome. 105 minutes (Marinell H.)