Review: Robber DVD

STUDIO: Kino Lorber | DIRECTOR: Benjamin Heisenberg | CAST: Andreas Lust, Florian Wotruba, Johann Bednar, Markus Schleinzer, Franziska Weisz
RELEASE DATE: 10/18/2011 | PRICE: DVD $29.95, Blu-ray $34.95
SPECS: NR | 101 min. | Foreign language crime thriller | 2.35:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1 | German with English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Note: I will avoid the obvious and not (repeat: not) describe the Austrian/German film Robber as a fast-moving crime thriller.

In the movie, Johann Rettenberger (Andreas Lust) is released from prison where he has maintained his physical prowess as a long-distance runner. He goes on to win the Vienna Marathon — and resume his career as a bank robber. Isolated and impassive, he continues this double life until he allows himself to connect with a social worker, Erika (Franziska Weisz), he knew in his youth. Then Johann’s carefully constructed life begins to unravel.

Robber movie scene

Andreas Lust take charge in Robber.

Based on a true story, Robber is fascinating as a character study of a man addicted to the endorphin rushes of running and crime. When a robbery goes awry, Johann needs his fix and heedlessly hits another bank. His body is the last refuge of individuality in the greyed-over Austria of modern European Socialism.

In Robber, Austria is not the country of frothy creams and lilting waltzes, but rather cold bureaucracies and sterile superhighways. The one throwback to an earlier era is the apartment Johann shares with Erika. It is, however, mausoleum-like with its empty bookcases, dark hallways and closed-off chambers. The sense of isolation in the interior scenes is underscored by director Benjamin Heisenberg’s use of a stationary camera a la Michael Haneke (The White Ribbon).

The only release is running. Indeed, the robbery and chase sequences are all the more breathtaking because they are not executed with machines but one man’s physical abilities.

Beyond the caper elements, if Robber works for you, then you might want to check out Tony Richardson’s masterful 1962 drama The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner.

The DVD doesn’t have any special features.


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About David

David Leopold is an actor, writer and videographer who would take a Sherpa ride up a Tibetan mountain to see an Edwige Feuillère movie.