Based on the acclaimed novel "Die Wand" by Austrian writer Marlen Haushofer, "The Wall" is a contemplative, unnerving, and wholly gorgeous film that is unlike anything you've seen. Despite it being an Austrian-German film, "The Wall" is in the English language and is mostly told through voice-over by the main character known only as Woman (Martina Gedecki, "The Lives of Others").
The woman is staying with friends at a hunting lodge in the Austrian Alps. Left alone one afternoon, she bonds with their dog Lynx while waiting for them to return. But they never do -- so she goes on foot to find them, only to discover an anomaly unlike anything she's ever encountered: An impenetrable, translucent wall in the middle of the wilderness that won't allow her to pass. She spends the next three years isolated from the human race with only a cow, two cats, and Lynx by her side.
The film has a terrifying setup, yet it's quietly beautiful and handles the "terror" of the situation with maturity and grace rather than amping up the spookiness. The film (and book) could have been about the woman's search for answers as to what the wall is, and maybe even a journey along the wall to see how far it stretches. Instead, we follow the woman as she learns to cope with her situation and ultimately becomes a changed person because of it. Despite it being on the grim side, there is an odd hopefulness to the story that defies its eerie conventions.
What we end up with is a thoughtful study of loneliness, longing, disillusionment, and ultimately acceptance that almost demands more than one viewing. While it seems as though not much happens and the pacing certainly isn't in a rush, the woman fascinates with her tenacity and her ability to completely change who she is as a person because of her dire circumstances. Gedecki embodies this journey by being a master of her craft.
Adapted and directed by Austrian film and theatre director Julian Pölsler, "The Wall" never bores because the woman's journey is a wonder to behold. Even when nothing much is happening, her resilience is striking, and Pölsler is able to capture this. In addition, the six cinematographers he uses have created one of the most stunning films in years.
It might not be for everyone, but with its compelling premise and tour de force performance by Gedecki, this is a film you won't soon forget.
There are no Special Features on the DVD, just the trailer.