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Vivere

'Tis the eve of Christmas, festival of light, but three more or less German women—two young half-Italian sisters (Esther Zimmering and Kim Schnitzer) and a much older stranger played by veteran actress Hannelore Elsner—spend it in the darkness of their own pain and losses while bumping into one another at points across the new Europe, whose porous borders have inspired a whole new style of fractured filmmaking and identity crisis. The night's action keeps looping back on itself to tie the women's stories together and shift perspective from one to the other, though truthfully only by a little. I like writer-director Angela Maccarone's ambition, but her technical ingenuity exceeds her grasp of potentially complex emotions, which get stuck in a groove of mawkish self-pity. There is pregnancy, and lesbian longing, and guilt and rebellion and retirement panic, some of which is handled with sensitivity. But the overarching theme of abandonment is hammered into the ground with lugubrious intensity, followed by a lurch into optimism wherein the plot ties itself into a shiny bow of insight labeled "Chin up, be nice, watch the stars, go home—wherever that is."


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