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Ruzowitzky's sardonic, economical movie—whose German title is a neologism translating as "The One-Seventh Farmers"—doesn't have much dialogue. Indeed, given the archaic feel, excellent sight gags, and spare Satie piano accompaniment, it could almost be a (very eccentric) silent film. The acting is skillfully broad, with the shrilly provocative Emmy (Sophie Rois) and goofy golden-boy Lukas (Simon Schwarz) particularly memorable as the peasants most active in their struggle against the intractably hostile "full" farmers who surround them.

To a far greater degree than the madcap families of Happiness and The Celebration, these unsentimentally simpleminded communards—ranging in age from child to crone—have a more complicated relationship to the surrounding society. Their haphazard organization harks back to the matriarchal, sexually promiscuous collective imagined by Friedrich Engels in The Origin of Private Property, the Family, and the State. Not only does each local custom (including "leisure") have to be reinvented, their very presence is understood as a threat, sexual as well as economic, to the neighboring farmers who, predictably, mobilize religion against them.

Unfit to be tied: Stevenson and Baker in Happiness
Henny Garfunkel
Unfit to be tied: Stevenson and Baker in Happiness

Details

Happiness
Written and directed by Todd Solondz
A Good Machine release
At the NYFF, October 9-10
Opens October 11

The Celebration
Written and directed by Thomas Vinterberg
An October Films release
At the NYFF, October 7-8
Opens October 9

The Inheritors
Written and directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky
A Stratosphere Entertainment release
At the NYFF, October 7-8
Opens October 9

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Ruzowitzky is telling a timeless tale but his folkish faux innocence has a distinctly modernist backbeat. (In one privileged moment, the one-seventh farmers discover that they have inherited a gramophone complete with disc of Caruso's "La donna è mobile.") This Marxist comedy has an inevitably brutal denouement. The Inheritors may be overshadowed by the week's other releases but there hasn't been a sharper, funnier, more socially astute German-language import since the halcyon days of Rainer Werner Fassbinder.

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