Movie Review by Neils Hesse

Starring: Daniel Bruhl, Julia Jentsch, Stipe Erceg, Burghart Klaußner, Peer Martiny
Director: Hans Weingartner

The Edukators are Jan (Daniel Bruhl) and Peter (Stipe Erceg) and they are a team of two very unique, radical activists. They break into rich people’s houses and rearrange the furniture, place non perishable items in the fridge and so on, leaving the words “The Edukators” sprayed on the wall as their calling card. They basically aim to make wealthy homeowners feel unsafe.

At the height of their infamy Peter goes off on a holiday, leaving Jan with the simple task of assisting his girlfriend Jule (Julia Jentsch) to redecorate a flat that she has been ordered to evict. As they work Jule explains her credit situation to Jan, highlighting how an accident she had with no motor insurance left her with a debt of up to 100,000 Euros for smashing into some rich guy’s Mercedes Benz. After some hard work and a few drinks Jan finds himself relating to and falling for Jule who is also an activist but a much more benign and conventional one.

While out together one day Jan reveals to Jule that he and Peter are the infamous Edukators and as he explains to her how they do it, she notices the name of the man whose car she smashed into – a Mr Hardenberg (Burghart Klaubner) – is on their target list. Suffice to say Jule somehow persuades Jan to take her to Hardenburg’s house when he breaks in to it. It all goes well without any problems but they agree to keep it a secret from Peter who is returning from holiday the following day.

The next day Jule realises that she has left her mobile phone at Hardenberg’s home, so she and Jan go back to get it only to be interrupted by Hardenberg who turns up unexpected. Not only does he catch them but he also recognises Jule. Jan, in a state of surprise and shock, knocks Hardenberg unconscious, then realising that they are in very deep water they call Peter. Panicking they come to the conclusion that the only way out for the time being is to keep Hardenberg hostage until they can figure a way out of their dilemma.

The film has got a very fresh take on the whole kidnap movie theme, it is not violent and it is not quintessentially a kidnap/hostage type of movie. It manages to fit in human drama, morality, politics, love, friendship and elements of a thriller, even though for the last half of the movie the hostage situation seemingly takes centre stage. The running time is a bit long as it clocks in at just over 2 hours, but it does not particularly drag at any point and the pace is good. The director has done a very good job in crafting this film that successfully sends out several powerful messages about society today in a very intriguing manner.

Performances across the board are very good and each actor pulls their weight. However Daniel Bruhl, as the young idealistic man who loses his faith in what exactly it is that he is fighting for, and Julia Jentsch, as the young woman whose whole life is in many ways ruined just because she had the misfortune of bumping into an expensive car owned by some rich guy who could probably afford two more like it, deliver above average performances. Their chemistry together is very subtle but also very involving as their characters inevitably fall in love as they are drawn in the same direction.

THE EDUKATORS delivers some interesting and thought provoking viewing that ought to definitely spark some very challenging arguments from amongst its audience.

4 out of 6 stars