Original title:Hinterland
Director:Stefan Ruzowitzky
Running time:99 minutes
Release date:Not communicated
Vienna, 1920. After the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Peter Perg, a soldier in the Great War, returns from captivity. Everything has changed in his city, where unemployment and nationalist impulses are growing every day. He feels like a stranger at home. Suddenly, several veterans are brutally murdered. Peter Perg is deeply affected by these crimes and joins forces with Theresa Korner, a medical examiner, to investigate. As he discovers more and more, Peter finds himself involved in the events and must face crucial choices in a crossroads that looks like an expressionist thriller.

Mulder's Review

"The first time I had the opportunity to read the script was 10 or 12 years ago. The Vienna Screenplay Forum had a program where young writers could ask experienced colleagues to discuss their scripts. I was paired with Hanno Pinter, and my first impression of the script was very mixed: in some places I thought it was incredibly good, but in others it was not finished. Hanno taught himself screenwriting and broke a lot of unspoken rules, which led to some extraordinary solutions, but also showed the importance of having rules. Years later, the script came back to my desk. It had progressed well, but I still felt that in some places it needed major revisions, and I also introduced new elements, like the love story. But it was Hanno Pinter who came up with the story; the basic elements - the historical context and the motivation of the serial killer - were there from the beginning." - Stefan Ruzowitzky

The theme of redemption is one of the strongest in cinema and Stefan Ruzowitzky's new film illustrates this perfectly, both in terms of a captivating and bewitching script and, above all, in terms of the masterful photography that allows this film to mix thriller and war film.  Stefan Ruzowitzky has made a name for himself by directing effective horror thrillers such as Anatomy 1&2 (2000, 2003) and Patient Zero (2018), war films such as The Counterfeiters (2007), The Counterfeiters (2008) (awarded the Oscar for best foreign film) and thrillers such as Deadfall (2013) with varying degrees of success. 

His new film is certainly his best to date as it demonstrates a true gift of storytelling of the director and a constant care to propose a violent thriller that will remind some viewers Seven (1982) of David Fincher but also proposes a reflection on war and survival even if it means making questionable choices.

The action takes place in 1920 after the First World War in Vienna. We discover Peter Berg (Murathan Muslu), a former criminologist who became a prisoner of war, who returns to Vienna seven years after fighting against Russian troops. He left his job in the police and his wife and daughter to fight on the front before being arrested and taken prisoner in a military camp. Upon his return, the city of Vienna is unrecognizable to him and he feels a kind of repulsion towards him from several people around him, whether it be his former colleague Victor Renner (Marc Limpach) and Dr. Theresa Körner (Liv Lisa Fries), a medical examiner. His wife has left their town and seems to have rebuilt her life while hoping that he will return one day. The brutal crimes in Vienna seem to have something to do with Peter Berg's past and he will not only have to fight his inner demons but also stop this psychopath.

When discovering Hinterland, the first thing that stands out is its aestheticism and the use of modern technology to create the settings and above all to plunge us into a disturbing universe in which the city of Vienna seems dangerous and full of traps. Some scenes in the film seem to come straight out of an expressionist graphic novel. The images of Interland show not only the trauma of soldiers returning from war but also the will of some of them to heal their physical or psychological wounds in order to find a place in a society that seems to reject them. While American thrillers tend to focus on violent murders and deceptive appearances, Hinterland is more of an intense cinematic experience using numerous visual effects to reconstruct the city of Vienna. The great care given to the aesthetics of the film is certainly its strength and the director Stefan Ruzowitzky proves to be a true goldsmith in reconstructing a bygone era in which Viennese society seemed to lose its moral bearings.

Hinterland benefits from an excellent cast, starting with its lead actor Murathan Muslu and in the secondary roles Liv Lisa Fries, and Matthias Schweighöfer (Resistance (2020), Army of the Dead (2021) and soon the next film by Christopher Nolan Oppenheimer (2023). The director Stefan Ruzowitzky has perfectly directed his actors to offer an effective and striking film that deserves to be discovered on the big screen.

Directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky
Written by Robert Buchschwenter, Hanno Pinter, Stefan Ruzowitzky
Produced by Oliver Neumann, Sabine Moser, Bady Minck, Alexander Dumreicher-Ivanceanu, Geneviève Lemal, Robert Marciniak
Starring Murathan Muslu, Liv Lisa Fries, Marc Limpach
Cinematography : Benedict Neuenfels
Edited by Oliver Neumann
Music by Kyan Bayani
Production companies: FreibeuterFilm GmbH, AMOUR FOU, Scope Pictures, Lieblingsfilm
Distributed by Square One Entertainment (Germany), Eurozoom (France), Constantin Movie (United States)
Release dates : August 6, 2021 (Locarno), October 7, 2021 (Germany)
Running time : 99 minutes

Seen on December 21, 2022 (press screener)

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