- 1 hr 36 min
Amnesia is a slow-burning drama that explores memory, grief, and identity. Written and directed by Swiss filmmaker Barbet Schroeder, the film tells the story of Martha (Marthe Keller), a former German singer who lives alone in a stunning villa on the island of Ibiza. Martha has isolated herself from the world, avoiding contact with her neighbors and immersed in her own routines. Her life changes when a young couple, Jo (Max Riemelt) and Paul (Bruno Ganz), rents her guesthouse for the summer.
Jo and Paul are different from Martha. They are lively and curious, exploring the island and attending parties. Despite their contrasting personalities, Jo and Martha develop a tentative friendship, with Jo being drawn to the older woman's enigmatic aura. However, their relationship becomes complicated when Martha starts experiencing episodes of amnesia, triggered by traumatic memories of her past.
As Martha's memory starts to fade, she becomes increasingly dependent on Jo, who tries to help her remember her past. With the help of old photographs and music, Jo uncovers Martha's past as a famous singer in Nazi Germany, raising questions about Martha's identity and the reasons why she left it all behind. The past also haunts Jo, as he deals with his own personal demons that have brought him to Ibiza in search of a new beginning.
Schroeder's direction is masterful, capturing the beauty of the island while contrasting it with the characters' inner turmoil. The meditative pace allows the audience to immerse themselves in the characters' emotions, as they confront their grief and try to unpack their past. The film's themes of memory and identity are universal, as Schroeder explores how the past shapes our present and how our memories can both be a source of comfort and pain.
Keller delivers a restrained yet powerful performance as Martha, perfectly embodying the enigmatic character's detachment and vulnerability. Riemelt shines as Jo, capturing the character's conflicting emotions as he navigates his relationship with Martha and uncovers the secrets of the past. Ganz, in his last role before his death in 2019, provides a nuanced portrayal of Paul, adding depth to a character that could have easily been overshadowed.
What makes Amnesia a compelling film is its ambiguity. Schroeder avoids providing easy answers or resolving conflicts, leaving the audience to interpret the characters' motives and actions. The film's nonlinear structure adds to its complexity, as it switches between past and present, blurring the lines between reality and memory. The final act of the film is a slow burn towards a climax that leaves the audience guessing until the end, creating a sense of unease that lingers long after the credits roll.
In conclusion, Amnesia is a haunting and thought-provoking film that explores memory, identity, and grief with a poetic sensibility. Schroeder's direction is masterful, capturing the beauty of the island while contrasting it with the characters' inner turmoil. The film's themes are universal, and the performances by Keller, Riemelt, and Ganz are outstanding. While not for everyone, Amnesia is a film that lingers in your mind, challenging your perceptions of the past and the present, and the people we think we know.
Amnesia is a 2015 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 36 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.1 and a MetaScore of 59.