Tiff Review: ‘Gutland’ is an Atmospheric Thriller Set in a Nefarious Community

When a German drifter walks into the quaint Luxembourg village of Schandelsmillen with a scruffy beard, bag full of money, and stoically gruff attitude, we wonder what secrets his past holds. Jens Fauser (Frederick Lau) arrives with a single question: “Do you need help with the harvest?” That specific query unfortunately can’t help but make him stick out like a sore thumb further than he already does considering the harvest is half over. The townspeople therefore prove cold and cryptic, forcing him to accept work would be better found elsewhere. But as soon as that realization to move on arrives, the atmosphere abruptly shifts. Young Lucy (Vicky Krieps) invites him to her bed and old man Jos Gierens (Marco Lorenzini) takes him under wing. Suddenly he’s found home.

Writer/director Govinda Van Maele’s debut narrative feature Gutland shows this in rapid fashion so we never quite acknowledge everything’s inherent strangeness.
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