Watch Import Export
- 2 hr 15 min
Import Export is a raw, gritty and brutally honest film directed by Ulrich Seidl and released in 2007. The story follows two protagonists living in parallel worlds, yet their paths eventually intersect at some point. The movie is a haunting depiction of the idea of home, the superfluous search for love, and the pursuit of a better life in foreign lands. The story begins in Ukraine, where we meet a young, hopeless nurse named Olga, who dreams of a better life beyond the bleakness of her country. She gets hired by an agency that sends her to work as a cleaner in a Viennese hospital. However, Olga quickly realizes that her work is physically exhausting, sexually demeaning, and even sometimes dangerous. Her German-language is rusty, and she struggles to integrate into society. Meanwhile, in Austria, the film follows the story of a young man named Paul Brenner, who has dreams of making it big in the business world. However, his ambitions are only ever a disappointment, and he eventually resorts to selling pornography door-to-door. He is overworked and underpaid, and the company he works for makes him face constant rejection by potential customers. Thus, he decides to go to Ukraine to find work, and hopefully, the love of his life. The two characters' lives are intertwined when Paul arrives in Ukraine, and we follow both of them as they navigate life on opposite sides of the immigrant experience. The movie highlights the stark difference in aesthetics and lifestyles between Eastern Europe and the West. Ulrich Seidl, the director, effectively contrasts the orderly and refined culture of Vienna, Austria, with the chaotic streets and living conditions of Ukraine. The Ukrainian landscape is a harsh contrast to the utopian imagery of Western Europe. Import Export is an emotionally taxing movie, exposing the fragility of human existence through its two main characters. The narrative depicts the reality of living in a foreign land as an immigrant, highlighting the struggle for survival, loneliness, social isolation, and lack of connection to one's new environment. The film doesn't shy away from the dark realities of immigration, with each character struggling to find a sense of belonging in the world. The characters' plights are expertly delivered by the cast of the film, with Ekateryna Rak playing Olga, and Paul Hofmann playing Paul Brenner. Ekateryna Rak's portrayal of Olga is particularly commendable, with the character's stoic expression belying the difficult sacrifices she makes for her family. We see the hopelessness in Olga's eyes when she first arrives in Vienna, and how her sense of self and respect are eroded away with each passing day. Paul Hofmann's naturalistic acting provides the audience with a character whose promises of a world beyond his dreary existence are heart-wrenching. The sad reality of Paul's life is particularly evident when he arrives in Ukraine, and the image of him sleeping in a cluttered room perfectly encapsulates his desperation for a better future. The movie's cinematography is also particularly striking, with the camera taking the viewer on an unflinching journey through a gritty reality that the characters must face. The film's lighting choices are particularly noteworthy, with the colours and tones reflecting the mood of the narrative. The use of blue and grey tones to depict the bleary, bleak winter months in both Vienna and Ukraine helps to create a sense of the cold and desolate world that the protagonists find themselves in. In conclusion, Import Export is a brutally honest and hard-hitting movie that tackles the complex realities of immigration, poverty and the search for a better life. Ulrich Seidl's masterful direction, paired with exceptional acting performances and a striking visual tone, immerses the viewer in the harsh realities of the narrative. The film may be challenging to watch, but it ultimately serves as a poignant reminder of the polarizing world we find ourselves living in, and the harsh realities faced by many around the world.