Four Minutes

Synopsis & Film Details

Last year, the winner of the Lola Award (the German Oscar equivalent) for Best Film was THE LIVES OF OTHERS. This year, it’s FOUR MINUTES (which also won a Best Actress award for Monica Belibtrau), This rapturous, inspirational film concerns two women, their lives shaped by violent pasts, who find comfort and love in each other’s company. Tough young Jenny (Hannah Herzsprung, in a meteoric debut performance) is serving time in a women’s prison in Luckau, Germany. She meets her match in the elderly Traude (Monica Bleibtreu), a Prussian woman who has been teaching piano to inmates since World War II. But Traude’s near-obsessive attachment to Jenny goes far beyond musical professionalism, becoming something much more fervid and intense. Everything hangs in the balance when the dramatic details of both Jenny and Traude’s pasts threaten to be revealed. It all starts when Traude’s efforts to bring a new concert piano into the prison spark a disastrous chain of events, and her life-long job as the institution’s piano tutor is threatened. That’s when she encounters Jenny for the first time: as volatile as a Molotov cocktail, Jenny killed a man when she was only a teenager. Now regarded by everyone as the worst of the worst, she was once a child piano prodigy before her fall from grace into a life of violence. Traude enters the nihilistic delinquent into a contest, and it becomes her steadfast mission to tutor her – no matter how dangerous the task may be so that she may regain her considerable talents. Can this unlikely alliance between seeming good and evil, old and young, Schubert and hip hop, create beautiful music? Or will the administration’s meddling and Jenny’s rampages rip whatever hope the two women have to shreds? Packed with revelations, powderkeg drama and startling secrets, FOUR MINUTES is an amazing movie experience.

Directed by Chris Kraus
In German, with English subtitles
Germany, 2006
112 minutes. NR