From the makers of No Goodbye and Number 85 comes Maren, written and directed by Ludo Vici. Maren (Margitta-Janine Lippok) is waiting for her husband but after receiving a fateful phone call, she finds herself instead having dinner with death. Also starring: Max Tidof, Heio Von Stetten, Leonie Thelen, Katrin Kaysser, Elizabeth Jane Dum and Michael Sigel.
The film opens on a note of mystery and tension with a dose of mistrust that reflects the films that came before it from Vici, in what is becoming a trademark dark edge. There’s a blending of lines between hopeful and fearful lingering in the atmosphere and its origin becomes clear as the story progresses. For all its appearances on screen, in this instance death is relatively subdued, at least to begin with; Tidof’s portrayal begins in a calm, rational manner and slowly reveals his abundance of charisma, similarly to the film itself.
Things start off calmly enough, they follow a simple style which continues for the majority of the film, even to a point that if you glanced at it you might think it was a simple drama, following a tense or awkward date, before the dramatic changes take hold. Death becomes animated, energetic, not without the requisite darkness, but done in such a way that certainly has Tarantino-esque influences. It would have been interesting to see a touch more grit added to the dark themes of the film, or even for the hue of the film to be darker, there’s an overly colourful quality to the visual that feels slightly too effervescent for the subject.
The topics it touches upon however ask an age old question of ‘How far would you go to save a loved one?’, a question that many people may not want to ask themselves and that pushes towards a selfish or selfless response. Having Death present the options of either saving Maren’s husband or sacrificing one of the other restaurant’s guests, is entertaining and a highlight of the film but then leads into a more artistic effort which is less than flattering. While the particular scene is visually well done, the content is more questionable, it’s a jarring outburst which doesn’t necessarily progress the story a great deal but the film soon returns to its regularly scheduled programming and levels out again.
Maren is well acted and brings an interesting concept to the table, even if dealing with death can never be a completely original idea but questioning human capacity for selfishness when loved ones lives are in jeopardy always leads to captivating results. Death, played by Tidof, has a brilliant charisma and is captivating to watch but as a whole, doesn’t manage to live up to that.
Verdict: 6/10 |✯✯✯
Watch the trailer here