In the past, I’ve talked about my admiration for Lars von Trier. I understand that I should never take social lessons from the guy, in fact, that would be the last thing I ever do, but it can’t be denied that he makes exceptional movies. The most recent one that I have seen of his is Europa, which is a very strange, but very beautiful movie. It’s hard to talk about this one because it’s so unconventional and almost defies all rules of genre, but it would be a cinematic sin to not give this movie its due.
Leopold Kessler (Jean-Marc Barr) is an American who moves to Germany at the end of World War II to work as a sleeping car conductor for the Zentropa railway. His uncle (Ernst-Hugo Järegård) begins training him for the rigorous test that must be taken to be an official conductor for Zentropa. Meanwhile, Kessler meets Katharina Hartmann (Barbara Sukowa), whose father founded Zentropa, and they soon fall in love and begin a relationship. Because of the political unrest of Germany at the time, the American Colonel Harris (Eddie Constantine) enlists the help of Kessler to spy on the Hartmanns out of fear they may be working for German terrorists. As Kessler’s life continues being pulled in all these different directions, it is only a matter of time before he breaks down and loses control of the entire situation.
As I was watching this movie, I found myself becoming bored often. It’s not an easy watch in terms of entertainment. There’s a lot of dry dialogue and some of the acting is more than shoddy. Jean-Marc Barr delivers some of his lines like this is his first acting gig. The story, itself, can get confusing and muddled with all of the characters and their conflicting dialogue being thrown around. It all gets pretty jumbled really fast. These problems really drag the movie out and make it feel a lot longer than it actually is. Luckily, there’s a lot of positives to Europa that save it from being a pretentiously boring effort by Von Trier.