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The Wall

For all its meditations on the nature of loneliness, an individual’s will to live and the differences between animals and humans, The Wall is perhaps most notable as a cautionary tale in how not to adapt a book for the screen. In reworking Marlen Haushofer’s eponymous novel, Austrian director Julian Pölsler apparently decided to copy-and-paste entire paragraphs of text into the screenplay, which results in voice-over narration that makes Terrence Malick seem reticent. The film centers on an unnamed woman (Martina Gedeck, who also starred in The Lives of Others) who is mysteriously cut off by a transparent but impenetrable wall in the Austrian wilderness. She is, best as she can tell, alone inside this invisible jail, and the few people she glimpses on the other side of the clear barrier seem frozen in time. Left without human companions, Gedeck’s character carves out an existence for herself by developing relationships with the animals—a dog, a cow, a couple cats—and by logging her experiences on the few sheets of paper she can find. “So many things have happened to me that I must write if I don’t want to lose my mind,” she narrates. Gedeck modulates her facial expressions carefully, and the nature photography is often stunning, but they’re both swamped by the incessant voice-over. Perhaps we’re supposed to feel like we’re inside Gedeck’s head, but I just found myself craving silence.

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  • Running Time:
  • Release Date: Tuesday, June 11, 2013
  • Critic's Score: B-
  • Watch the trailer

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