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The Robber (Premiere in Paris)

Tuesday 10 August 2010, by Abla Kandalaft

Benjamin Heisenberg’s offering is very hard to classify in terms of genre. Although the colours are sobre, the dialogue minimalist and the pace on the slow side, tension is solidly maintained throughout the film, more efficient and uneasy than most bombastic, fight-heavy action flicks. The robber in question is Johann Rettenberger, a real-life successful marathon runner and serial bank robber. His bizarre double-life was the subject of a novel by Martin Prinz, to which Benjamin Heisenberg bought the rights. The originality of his approach is his treatment of the ambiguous protagonist. For most of the film at least, although not exactly likeable, Johann doesn’t appear to be a psychopath. He isn’t nasty or cruel. The director is very careful to avoid any analysis of the reasons behind his actions, the viewer is given no background or extra information. The film does not concern itself with his motivations but with the energy that drives him. The structure and rythm are built around that in order to enhance the feeling that he can not escape it and is therefore doomed from the start. Heisenberg really succeeds in setting the pace and the music to create this stifling and tragic atmosphere. Although the first half of the film feels drawn out, the rythm really picks up in the second half as the tension builds to a grim and very captivating ending.

Dir: Benjamin Heisenberg, 2010
Read the Q and A with director Benjamin Heisenberg in Unexplored: Q and As section

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