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Four Minutes

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Original title
Vier Minuten
Running time
112 min.
Germany Germany
Chris Kraus
Annette Focks
Judith Kaufmann
, , , , , , , ,
Kordes, Kordes Film
Drama | Music
Synopsis / Plot
This rapturous, inspirational film concerns two women, their lives shaped by violent pasts, who find comfort and love in each other's company. They overcome the obstacles put in their way by society through classical music, but not before engaging in a chaotic yet chaste amour fou.

Tough young Jenny (Hannah Herzsprung, in a meteoric debut peformance) is serving time in a women's prison in Luckau, Germany. She meets her match in the elderly Traude (Monica Bleibtreu), a Prussian woman who has been teaching piano to the inmates since World War II. But Traude's near-obsessive attachment to Jenny goes far beyond musical professionalism, becoming something much more fervid and intense. Everything hangs in the balance when the dramatic details of both Jenny and Traude's pasts threaten to be revealed.

It all starts when Traude's efforts to bring a new concert piano into the prison spark a disastrous chain of events, and her life-long job as the institution's piano tutor is threatened. That's when she encounters Jenny for the first time: as volatile as a Molotov cocktail, Jenny brutally murdered a man when she was only a teenager. Now regarded by everyone as the worst of the worst, she was once a child piano prodigy before her fall from grace into a life of violence. Traude enters the nihilistic delinquent into a contest, and it becomes her steadfast mission to tutor her - no matter how dangerous the task may be - so she may regain her considerable talents.

Can this unlikely alliance between good and evil, old and young, Schubert and hip hop, create beautiful music? Or will the administration's meddling and Jenny's rampages rip whatever hope the two women have to shreds?

Director Chris Kraus's script is packed with drama, thrills and explosive and lurid secrets, not to mention characters that clash with the force of a powder keg. From the barbarous environment of the prison - where not a soul can be trusted - to the glow of a refined concert hall, Jenny has only the four minutes of her performance to achieve redemption.
2008: Sur Awards: Nominated for Best Foreign Film
2007: European Film Awards: Nominated for Prix d'Excellence
2006: 2 German Film Awards: Best Feature Film and Actress (Monica Bleibtreu)
2006: Shanghai International Film Festival: Best Film
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