Well I was surprised. Although there's nothing major to this film I found myself being drawn into the characters and their relationships, where this film focuses on, and the ending gives a nice, satisfying, and slightly surprising ending.
He starts working for the man as a driver for his fast food business, driving between each location delivering supplies and collecting the money and that means working with his wife, the accountant of the business.
There's an instant attraction, and it's obvious that the husband is extremely jealous and protective of his wife, suspicious that she's having affairs, and that jealousy begins to get physical. Before long the ex-soldier is in well over his head, trying to save the wife who believes that there's no way out of the situation she's in.
The opening grabs your attention from the outset, not with any big explosions or twists, but with two characters playing off of each other with the story slowly pulling out their relationship through their conversation and actions, as well as setting up the base for main character's situation.
There are some nice touches in the opening sequences, such as the back and forth rather terse conversation between our main character Thomas, played by Benno Fürmann, and a woman at the German equivalent of the employment office.
Thomas is a quiet character, very controlled and contained, he's also extremely helpful to others and quickly bonds with the business man Ali Özkan, played by Hilmi Sözer, and his wife Laura, played by Nina Hoss.
The whole bonding process between Ali and Thomas is really interesting to watch. With Thomas not opening up much but proving extremely loyal to those he works for, and Ali trying to test him and bond far too quickly, it provides for some more interesting moments between the characters which I found very enjoyable to watch and quickly pulled me into their stories.
The drama starts when Laura and Thomas leap together. There's an obvious spark between the two and it explodes in a couple of scenes but is quickly interrupted by the husband who seems totally oblivious. This relationship takes on a different direction though when Thomas witnesses Ali hit Laura and discovers there's much more to the relationship than he first thought.
These complications develop the characters well, deepening them from the ones we first meet, changing our impressions of them and making them much more real to the audience.
It's interesting to reflect on how the story played out and how Laura and Thomas' relationship develops, particularly with the ending, and to wonder if it really was as innocent as it plays out, and perhaps there was something more to the relationship than we saw on screen.
The characters deliver the story with the minimum of effort and fuss, but not so little as to be style over substance as the plot delivers a good journey for them and for the audience, often without standard conventions being followed.
Performance wise the acting is good. Fürmann plays his character very restrained for the most part, until his relationship with Laura develops. Hoss, who plays Laura, is convincing and gives a hint of something a little more scheming behind her. However for me, it's Hilmi Sözer who plays Ali who has the best performance of the film. His character is perhaps the most complex and has to go through a number of different stages with his character, not many of which I want to tell you for fear of spoiling the story.
The ending of the story is an interesting one, and definitely not wholly expected, but it was a great ending to the character's stories. It perhaps is a little too neat, but it fits well with the characters.
The story itself plays out well and I really enjoyed how the character relationships developed and how the actors and story don't overplay their roles, keeping the feel realistic and restrained. The outcome is a little unexpected, and the twists and turns of the story are interesting but not hugely dramatic and Hollywood. There are never any great shocks and surprises, but there's enough that keep the story interesting and make for a refreshing film find.