All Of A Sudden review: Asli Özge displays how a moment of weakness can change a man’s life in this really rather good crime thriller.
All Of A Sudden review by Jazmine Sky Bradley, LFF 2016
Written and directed by Asli Özge, All Of A Sudden tells the story of how a moment of weakness can change a man’s life, auf enimal (translated to At Once, the film’s original title).
Set in a quiet German town surrounded by mountains and countryside, it’s clear that nothing exciting happens regularly here. That is, until Karsten (Sebastian Hülk) throws a party, and at the end of the night is left alone with the mysterious Anna (Natalia Belitski). Who is this woman, and why hasn’t he met her before? Did she come with friends? And how, exactly, did she end up dying on Karsten’s living room carpet? Of course, Karsten becomes an immediate suspect in the case, with his family, friends and girlfriend (Julia Jentsch) all questioning whether they really know him. Desperate to clear his name and gain back the trust he’s lost, Karsten goes to extreme lengths to reestablish himself and regain his power amongst his colleagues and peers. Will blackmail get him what he wants?
Özge has an eye for reflecting the mood of his characters against his backdrops, with All Of A Sudden‘s dreary, chilly setting mirroring Karsten’s current situation. Establishing shots of the town and surrounding areas show our protagonist’s comfortable upbringing; his family is wealthy, he’s popular, attractive, working his way up the career ladder. How does someone this ‘middle class’ land himself in such a mess? Or has it something to do with his entitled mindset; ‘I can do what I want because of who I am and where I come from’? A lack of sunshine and heavy use of natural lighting give the shots of Karsten a gloomy, claustrophobic feel, even when he’s by himself. There’s something about him we don’t trust and we don’t want to be left alone with him.
This theme of entitlement and getting what he wants reflects through his actions throughout, throwing his proverbial toys out the pram when things don’t go his way. The women in the film – Anna, along with (ex)girlfriend Laura and friend Judith (Luise Heyer) – are all just pawns in Karsten’s plan to prove his innocence, and he’ll drag anyone down with him to get to the top again. Meanwhile, his male colleagues and friends seem to be scared of him, making as little physical contact with him as possible, stepping away from him when he enters a frame.
Building to an uncomfortable, ill-deserved ending, Karsten’s back on top. Nothing can touch him; but for how long? Hülk’s quiet, brooding, sometimes violent performance is impressive, skewering his blonde-haired, blue-eyed image. Flitting from shock to anger, charm to control in a second, he’s volatile and hard to trust, exactly what you’d expect from a murder suspect…
Tense and gritty, All Of A Sudden is another great title to add to the long list of great crime thriller titles of late.
All Of A Sudden review by Jazmine Bradley at London Film Festival 2016.
All Of A Sudden plays at London Film Festival. It is currently awaiting a UK release date.