“Review of Death – the largest breakdown by a conductor since Cate Blanchett’s Tárrega”

rega “Review of Death – the largest breakdown by a conductor since Cate Blanchett’s Tárrega”


Matthias Glasner’s film is a dark comedy that delves into the dysfunctional dynamics of a family, reminiscent of Jonathan Franzen’s work. While not necessarily profound, it is highly enjoyable and captivating. The central theme revolves around the age-old question of what we inherit from our parents and the consequences of rejecting or embracing it. The movie stars acclaimed German actor Lars Eidinger as an orchestra conductor, and it comes as no surprise that his performance at the Berlin Philharmonic results in a disastrous and cringe-worthy moment, akin to Cate Blanchett’s character Lydia Tár’s breakdown in the same spot two years prior.

Eidinger portrays the character of Tom, who is emotionally distant and about to take on a significant project in his career. He is set to perform Sterben, a composition for orchestra and choir, composed by his moody and gloomy friend Robert Gwisdeck. During rehearsals, Robert constantly interrupts and belittles Tom, insulting the musicians and struggling to determine the worth of his own work. The film also struggles with this question, as the one public performance receives mixed reactions from the audience.

Tom is in a complicated situation where his ex-girlfriend, who he is still in love with, has asked him to be her birthing partner due to lack of emotional support from her current boyfriend. However, she has no plans of leaving him. Meanwhile, Tom’s sister, Lilith Stangenberg, who has a talent for music, only shows it when she is intoxicated. She works as a dental assistant and is having an affair with her married boss. Her drunken or hungover state puts her patients at risk as she struggles to keep dental tools steady in their mouths.

Both siblings have received their musical talent from their mother Lissy (played by Corinna Harfouch) who taught herself how to play the accordion. Sadly, Lissy is currently battling cancer and a bowel condition that causes incontinence, leaving her unable to care for her husband Gerd (played by Hans-Uwe Bauer) who has dementia. This combination of illnesses creates a volatile family situation that may or may not bring them closer together as Tom must come to terms with the fact that he has inherited his mother’s emotional detachment. A darkly humorous and intense conversation between mother and son reveals that they have always despised each other, even since Tom’s childhood, and that his emotional detachment has actually fueled his success in his professional life.

Furthermore, the fact that his parents are passing away does not enhance his execution of a musical composition titled “Dying” with any fresh understanding. It also does not redeem his emotional stagnation. However, it does offer a sort of fresh beginning – as the temporary reconciliation with his sister leads to her attendance at his public performance. This results in a cataclysmic event that brings both the music and Tom himself more recognition.

This is a dark, daring, wildly unconventional tale that constantly defies emotional expectations. It could have possibly been adapted for streaming television, but then viewers would miss out on the full experience of immersing themselves in it, broken up into segments with simple, low-tech chapter titles in the style of Lars Von Trier. There is a great deal of vitality within its pages.