SFIFF Reviews i: EDEN

EDEN (2006)

Written and Directed by Michael Hofmann

Credited cast:
Josef Ostendorf …. Gregor
Charlotte Roche …. Eden
Devid Striesow …. Xaver

Runtime: 98 min
Country: Germany /Switzerland
Language: German

Eden has been released in Europe and is playing at the San Francisco International Film Festival (SFIFF) in its North American Premier. I saw it as a bonus for the SFIFF volunteers on Orientation Day. The Program Director who introduced it called it “A culinary story of the power of love.”

As a child of about 4, Gregor is enthralled by his mother’s pregnant belly. “I want to have a belly just like that when I grow up.”

Forty years later, at about 280 pounds, he lunches regularly at a café adjoining a spa in the German Forest, and makes the acquaintance of Eden, a waitress there. Over time, he learns that she is married with a child about 4; she learns that he is a famous chef, presiding over dinners for 12 or so clients at his country bistro at 300 Euros per person. His food is reputed to arouse the erotic senses of his clients. Aspiring to learn of his cooking, she follows him to his bistro and watches through the window as he prepares dinner. He is a very private person, senses her presence and shoos her away. But she can”t stay away. Perhaps if he invites her in to taste the food, she”ll satisfy her curiosity and go away, but it only feeds her desire for more. A strong bond develops over the food and the preparation and the cooking and for a few hours each afternoon, they become lovers in the culinary art, with their souls, but never with their bodies.

Xaver teaches rich old folks to dance and leads them in games and such at his family’s spa. He hates his work and his life. All he has to make him happy is Eden, his wife, and their young son. He observes that she is away in the afternoon, and soon sees through her explanations. He follows her, sees her working with Gregor and can”t avoid the pleasure in her eyes.

Insanely jealous husband in fear of losing his only source of happiness; no good can come of this. Turmoil and hurt and injustices occur. The story ends in a way that is plausible, but could not be imagined.

Okay, the plot sounds soporific, but its German, about German institutions, and the characters draw you into an involvement so complete that you can feel the tension, and just when you”ve given up hope, a great revelation comes out of the blue.
mreview *****

The San Francisco International Film Festival will run from April 20 to May 4. I”m volunteering for the Info Booth and plan to attend as many of the films as I can work in to my schedule. Bear in mind that, for the most part, these are independent films and many have not been picked up for distribution, so they may not be playing at a “theater near you” anytime soon. On the other hand, some of the foreign films may have already been released in Europe.

As a public service, I will post brief reviews. My ratings are based on
5 stars ***** with a tilde ~ being half-a-star.

Happy viewing, or in any case, keep your eyes on rectorsite.com.

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