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Director: Valeska Grisebach
2017, Germany, Bulgaria, Austria, 120 minutes
Language: German, Bulgarian and English with English subtitles
An intense, slow-burning thriller, WESTERN follows a group of German construction workers installing a hydroelectric plant in remote rural Bulgaria. The foreign land awakens the men’s sense of adventure, but tensions mount when Meinhard, the strong, silent newcomer to the group, starts mixing with the local villagers. The two sides speak different languages and share a troubled history. Can they learn to trust each other—or is the stage being set for a showdown?
With sweeping cinematography and tightly modulated pacing, WESTERN tells a universal story of masculinity and xenophobia on the contemporary frontier of Eastern Europe. Drawing remarkably nuanced performances from a cast of non-professionals, Valeska Grisebach uses the trappings of the western genre to poke and prod at current anxieties about borders and our relationships with our neighbors.
“There are no stagecoaches or six-shooters in this sharp, simmering drama of German-Bulgarian discord, but the spirit of John Ford graces it.” – Guy Lodge, Variety
“A stunning existential study of masculinity.” – Sight and Sound
“A powerful, deeply human and intricately political drama… reminiscent of Claire Denis’ Foreign Legion cine-poem, Beau Travail.” – Daniel Kasman, MUBI Notebook