Venice Film Review: ‘Krieg’

Krieg” means “war,” but in German director Rick Ostermann’s sophomore film, his second to play in the Horizons sidebar in Venice after debut “Wolfskinder,” the war is a cold one. This is literal, with half the film taking place on an icy, isolated Austrian mountaintop, but also figurative in that the conflict between the story’s two separate time frames feels attritional, with the actual catharsis of dramatic confrontation between the two strands remaining frustratingly minimal. The movie is elegantly shot, and lean as a line of sight down the barrel of a long-range rifle. But it fails to cohere internally and its endothermic nature makes it difficult to warm to as a viewer: From allusive beginning to enigmatic ending, “Krieg” remains as remote as a snowbound Alpine hideaway.

That hideaway is a one-time sculptor’s cabin toward which we see a tiny figure struggle through the thick snow in the film’s desolate opening. Arnold
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