The bonds of family run strong. Sometimes even to our own detriment. Meaning we are willing to sacrifice other things in our lives for family. Parent for child. Grandparent for grandchild. In the case of this film, Sister for brother. A brother who is dying.
Being a writer is what Lisa (Nina Hoss – Barbara, A Most Wanted Man) does well. Though she hasn’t done it in a while. She is now a mother and wife and that seems to be her entire life now. So much so that she has moved from her native Germany to Switzerland for her husband Martin’s (Jens Albinus – The Audition, Dancer in the Dark) job at a posh school.
Things become complicated when her only sibling, her twin brother Sven (Lars Eidinger – Clouds of Sils Maria, Personal Shopper), an accomplished actor, becomes very ill. Sven has been diagnosed with leukemia and goes through the brutal treatment. He is to live with his mother (Marthe Keller – Marathon Man, Hereafter) while he is recovering. Lisa comes to help him settle.
All Sven thinks of is returning to the stage. Lisa believes that this will make him well again so does everything she can to make it happen. Soon her single minded obsession begins to affect her whole life and her marriage.
Nina Hoss is the German actress I am most familiar with. Prolific, she has been in many films. In each, no matter the quality, she demonstrates over and over her talent. Like many an actor she tends to be cast in a certain type of role. Usually a serious, quiet and somewhat tortured soul. Though it might seem repetitive at first glance she instills such humanity and nuance in every character that it does not feel like you are watching the same film again and again.
Here again Hoss is what separates this from a tedious film to one which is worth watching. Some might tire of the somewhat pretentious nature of the main characters but the honesty imbued in Lisa by Hoss makes her less grating. Focuses you on the questions raised here like family bonds and the sometimes all encompassing passion of being an artist.