Coup de grace

Coup de grace

DVD - 2003 | German
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Set in Latvia in 1919 at the end of the Russian civil war, a Prussian soldier rejects the advances of an aristocratic woman. She retaliates by joining the Bolsheviks.


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Jun 25, 2015

This is a 1976 West German film directed by Volker Schlöndorff, based on the novel by the French author Marguerite Yourcenar.
I didn't see from the film that Erich and Konrad are lovers.

Jan 10, 2015

On a country estate somewhere in the Baltics circa 1919 a small troop of German soldiers are waging a war against communist guerrillas hiding out in the nearby woods. Home to the countess Sophie de Reval and her brother Konrad (one of the soldiers) the manor house is now a ghost of its former glory with blown out windows, backed up sewers, and an amusingly senile aunt living upstairs. Taking an erotic interest in Konrad’s friend, the handsome yet taciturn officer Erich von Lhomond, Sophie is at first mystified then angered with the brooding man’s ambiguous response to her sexual invitations despite the fact he appeared genuinely jealous of her brief affair with yet another serviceman. But when she discovers that Erich only has eyes for Konrad, Sophie’s emotional desperation becomes political causing an already volatile love triangle to become deadly. Based on a popular novel, Volker Schlöndorff’s cinematic adaptation examines the futility of war both objectively (while aid from Berlin ebbs and floes, support for the cause also wanes) and subjectively (as the sounds of gun and bomb waft in through the windows the Reval home itself turns into a psychosexual minefield). Images of death are met with apathy, attempts at mirth appear sadly ridiculous, and an anxious exchange between Sophie and Erich through a locked door comes to resemble a Catholic confession. Filmed in bleak shades of black and white against a backdrop of frozen fields, the entire world seems lovelorn and weary; even the film’s shocking yet downplayed climax can be seen as either a callous act of indifference or the ultimate act of cruel revenge. Unfortunately its plodding pace is further hampered by some puzzling edits and a scattered narrative while a distinct lack of emotional conviction—perhaps intentional—frustrates all attempts to connect with the characters. Thankfully Schlöndorff would visit similar territory with much more zeal in 1979’s "The Tin Drum".


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