Movie Review: Verfolgt (Punish Me)

If Harold and Maude Meets Equus (with a sadomasochistic twist) sounds like the perfect combination for your next couch potato party, then Verfolgt (Punish Me), now out on DVD in the United States, may be your perfect cinematic mixed drink.  But a little caveat: the movie is certainly not as lusty as its DVD cover seems to purport (and I am a little suspicious that the raunchy lad posing as Kostja Ullmann might be a stand-in!).
    But even if the cover box screams campy bondage art film, the film itself touts two magnificent performances by Maren Kroymann, who portrays Elsa Seifer, a fifty-something juvenile probation officer who falls — gasp! — for one of her delinquent charges.  Kroyman plays the part of a professional woman, tepid in her marriage, and successful (but slightly unchallenged) in her job.  At first, I was not sure, even after the end of the movie, of who was using who, whether this was a case of manipulation, or true, heartfelt devotion between two risky lovers.
    The role of Jan, played by Kostja Ullmann, is convincingly portrayed and starkly different from Sommersturm (2004) where he plays a clean-cut teenager who rebuffs the longings of his questioning gay friend in an affecting summer camp tale replete with oodles of skin and sweaty competition.
    In this film, however, Ullman presents us with a character study in isolation and fantasy.  His eyes tell the tale.  He perfectly nuances his facial expressions evoking the image of a youth desirous of intimacy and affection but only knowing how to achieve attention through manipulation.  His behavior is that of a teenage thug.  But his eyes reveal something tender.

    I give the film a thumbs up.
Verfolgt (2007)  International Title: Punish Me
Directed by: Angelina Maccarone
Written by: Susanne Billig (who has a cameo appearance)
Starring: Kostja Ullmann; Maren Kroymann; Moritz Grove; Sila Sahin; Ada Labahn; Markus Voellenklee; Stephanie Charlotta Koetz; Sophie Rogall


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