Bad Education: German Activists Do Radical Chic to Death

Pitting three hapless young activists against the autocracy of high-bourgeois materialism, The Edukators smiles indulgently as the kids rage belatedly against the dying of the SDS light. Jan (Daniel Br) and Peter (Stipe Erceg) moonlight as situationist intruders, stealing into mansions while their owners are away to rearrange stuff (porcelain bijous in the toilet, stereo in the fridge) and make empty threats ("Your Days of Plenty Are Numbered"). Peter's girlfriend, Jule (Julia Jentsch), hands out anti-sweatshop flyers when she's not slaving as a waitress to pay off a debt to an industrialist, Har-denberg (Burghart Klaussner), whose Mercedes she totaled. When Jule and Jan infiltrate Hardenberg's palace, the lord of the manor returns at an inopportune moment, and the youngsters find themselves in the midst of a kidnapping.

Direct-action romantics: Erceg and Jentsch
photo: IFC Films
Direct-action romantics: Erceg and Jentsch

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The Edukators
Directed by Hans Weingartner
IFC, opens July 22

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"We would have liked to get hold of a big shot like me," says easygoing captive Hardenberg, a former commune-dwelling student leader. Yet this trio of direct-action romantics do nothing with their prize hostage but sit and fret, while po-faced Jule and Jan (calling Dr. Truffaut) wring their hands over their clandestine romance. Shot on shoddy, harsh-lit DV, The Edukators casts Hardenberg as the avuncular voice of reason, his fat-cat complacency the destination point of a rational adulthood. "Under 30 and not liberal, no heart; over 30 and still liberal, no brain," he explains, a familiar canard the film endorses at every turn.

 
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