Blessed Events is one of my favorite films of the entire festival so far. It’s my favorite for many reason, but mostly because I have no idea what it’s really about. I have my guesses, and I know what the festival guide told me, but I can’t be sure. There were times when I felt sure there was a thread of terror underlying the whole thing. At other moments it was authentically a pleasant story of things working out for the very best. Or were they? Was there some sort of conspiracy dictating the characters actions? I DON’T KNOW. It’s a thrilling experience, watching Blessed Events. I highly recommend it.
The film comes from Germany and it’s written and directed by a woman named Isabelle Stever. I wish I could tell you more about Stever and her previous films (of which there are four before this most recent ones), as her talent is evident and I would hope it didn’t appear out of nowhere. Her film, which she co-wrote with Anke Stelling, begins in a club with two untalented dancers. It’s one of those sad, Euro-trash clubs and ends in a quickie in a hatchback in the club’s parking lot. The woman, named Simone (played by Annika Kuhl) slips out of the situation without being noticed, saying goodbye, or exchanging numbers, much less names. And as we follow her through her sad, lonely life, we find out she pregnant.
Fortunately for Simone, she runs into her former conquest at the hospital where she’s getting a ultrasound, and he seems nothing but pleased to see her again. His name is Hannes (Stefan Rudolph) and he reacts even more happily when she informs him of the expected child, which was certainly his. The two enter into a relationship that at times seems completely normal. Except for the fact that Hannes is just too perfect, at least Simone thinks so. She keeps finding things to take issue with, she keeps telling him he should leave and save herself from her and their baby.
This is where Stever’s skills become so apparent. She never gives the audience any proof, or even really any suggestion that things are perfect as they seem. Or that we should believe things are perfect. The reactions we’re supposed to experience are based solely on the doubts of Simone. But my involvement with this character was so complete, and I empathized so thoroughly, that I alternated between believing there is something terrifyingly wrong, and feeling euphoric highs considering things turned out so well.
The film takes us from the conception of the child up until it’s a new born. Normal relationship ‘hiccups’ are introduced, but there are some darker, and more interesting factors. A nameless man, who seems to be an ex-boyfriend of Simone’s keeps making jarring appearances. It’s unclear of his, or her intentions in these meetings and they are never discussed, even though discovered on occasion by Hannes.
Hannes seems to hit it off with a female neighbor, and we become suspicious of an affair even without proof. Near the middle of her pregnancy, Simone takes a dangerous bike ride that ends in what seems an intentional accident, abortion seems to be the only likely explanation of her actions.
Stever steers clear of using music almost completely, which is important to the emotional confusion we’re meant to experience. The film knows when it leaves the gate exactly what it wants to be, and what it doesn’t want to be. This means you won’t get any more answers than you’re willing to come up with yourself. Understandably, this will be upsetting to some but for those more interested in the journey than the destination, this will be a fantastic trip.
Truly throught-provoking with a very original story and concept makes for a film that is a lot of fun and a great watch!