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Festivals Film Reviews Raindance Film Festival 2024

Review: What you see of me. Heartbreak, beauty and loneliness

  • Release year: 2024
  • Director: Isabelle Caps-Kuhn.
  • Producers: Julian Haisch and Anja Jule Harig.
  • Screenplay by: Isabelle Caps-Kuhn.
  • Cinematography by: Konstantin Pape.
  • Music by: Andreas Skandy.

Synopsis: a couple tries to change their dynamic into an open relationship, with disastrous consequences.

Shotgun Commentary: gorgeous essay on solitude and its consequences.

Adam (Julius Nitschkoff) and Gwen (Sina Genschel).
Source: What you see of me (Isabelle Caps-Kuhn, 2024).

Review

What you see of me tells the story of Gwen (Sina Genschel) and Adam (Julius Nitschkoff), a couple who decide to explore the possibility of making their relationship open. The narrative utilises sexuality, emotions and silence to paint a picture of loneliness and the desperation to avoid it.

Relatable imperfection

The story follows Gwen, a woman ignored and avoided by her family, who’s only relation is Adam. This scarceness of connections, along with her fear of isolation, push her to make decisions that look self-sabotaging at first, but eventually lead her exactly where she should be. The journey of this character is fascinating, beginning to end. A coming-of-age tale far from the usual teenager struggles and into the adult problem of getting to know yourself and what you want from life. A second coming-of-age, if you will.

The contradictory nature of Gwen makes her as frustrating as it does captivating. It is really easy to feel identified with her because everyone has been, or still is, in that uncomfortable phase of mental self-discovery. The theme of loneliness is central to the plot, but it is also a consequence in itself, rather than the main problem that Gwen has. Her loneliness, expressed beautifully through literal and metaphorical images and actions, is but the result of not knowing who she is. That lack of self-knowledge has led her to be with people who don’t understand her nor connect with her.

The art of omission

As for her background, it is incredibly foggy. While Caps-Kuhn admitted during her Q&A at the world premiere of the film, at Raindance Film Festival, that a lot of moments have been cut out in order for the story to make sense and get to the point, Gwen’s family history was never intended to be part of the final cut. That intentional plot hole is very compelling, not only in its mysterious nature (only the actors know), but in the possibilities it offers.

It was mentioned before how Gwen is relatable due to her struggle being a universal one. Well, in this case, the lack of a very specific past aids enormously in the process of connection between spectator and protagonist. After all, having issues with one’s family is also a universal struggle.

The clever use of information and lack thereof is also extended to the soundtrack. The sound throughout the feature is a crucial companion for the audience. From silences that accentuate Gwen’s loneliness, to the songs and lyrics that accompany her emotions and some moments in her life. The sound beckons you into the fictional world of the screen, leaving any reality forgotten during the whole duration of the footage.

Efficacy at its best

Genschel delivers an interesting performance, saying more with her expressions and silences than she does with her words. The subtlety of her acting is superb and does wonders for the storytelling of the film. Yet, even though Gwen is the main character, her nuances and talent could have been lost without the flawless work of her supporting cast, a range of men and women with bigger and smaller roles that gave their all to create the fantastic piece that What you see of me is. Everyone is spot on in their roles, a well-oiled machine that also extends to the costume, makeup and hairstyle departments, who deliver great looks for everyone on screen.

All in all, What you see of me is a rare debut in which every part of the story works, the talent of all the professionals involved shine through, and the audience is engrossed by every single development.

Advice to take from this movie:

  • What works for others might not be what works for you, and that is okay.
  • You will never find your people if you don’t know who you are.
  • Your fears can hurt others.
Gwen (Sina Genschel) and Adam (Julius Nitschkoff). Source: What you see of me (Isabelle Caps-Kuhn, 2024). Courtesy of: Raindance Film Festival.

What’s your take? Have you watched What you see of me? What do you think of open relationships in media products? Don’t hesitate to let me know your thoughts in the comments section below, or leave a message in my contact page! For more reviews and cinema-related articles, check out the rest of my blog! 😀

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