A E I O U – A Quick Alphabet of Love (Berlinale review)

A E I O U – A Quick Alphabet of Love (Berlinale review)

Anna is 60 and her acting heyday is now behind her. She lives on her own but has a friend and confidant in her downstairs neighbour and landlord, Michel, who is also single. Reluctantly, Anna accepts a job as a language coach for 17-year-old Adrian who has a speech impediment and is something of a misfit. She recognises him as the boy who recently snatched her handbag in the street

If someone dies young, then by 17 he might be already at the middle or the end of his life. That says Adrian, when Anna, insists that she is old. And the electricity between the two lovable stars of the film sparks as they start a doomed relation that seems weird but for them is natural and feels right. Nicolette Krebitz writes and directs this unconventional love story using a narrator especially at first act of the film, when it’s not really necessary.

And sure, just listening what you see is happening on screen is not the biggest concern with the film, which is the story. It is not that the screenplay is bad, on the contrary it’s well written and gives especially Sophie Rois some bright moments to shine. But it never feels like the story is enough to fill a feature film. The script itself, points outs through narration, that feelings of love are simply imitation of what we have seen on films and read on books, hence the love story of those two, makes them uncomfortable to express, as they aren’t familiar with any screen models. How can we be told that, when we have seen hundreds of times in the history of cinema a story of a young adult or late teenager fall in love with an older man/woman.

It’s not that A E I O U is not having it’s good moments. As mentioned Sophie Rois is amazing on the role of Anna and the Milan Herms is not bad himself. So it’s the direction. But something is missing for a film selected for the Berlinale Competition. Perhaps this selection was a mistake from Carlo Chatrian, as it even hurt a not so bad second film.

Grade 2.5/5

by Nicolette Krebitz
with Sophie Rois, Udo Kier, Milan Herms, Nicolas Bridet
Country: Germany / France Year: 2022
Runtime: 104’

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