Norrkoping is Sweden's outdoor movie capital, and just a couple months ago we featured an article about some of the popular outdoor movie screenings in the area. Flimmer is South East Sweden's biggest independent film organization and has been arranging open air cinema screenings since 1996. The outdoor movie screenings are organized together with local film studios, cinemas and municipalities. Last year 15, 000 visitors enjoyed open air cinema at 22 locations. The film organization strives to promote indie and arthouse films, such as the controversial "The Free Will" (2006). Though the subject matter is difficult -a love story between a serial rapist and a woman with a history of abuse- the film achieves a touching and emotionally moving affect on its audience. The film was also a favorite at the Tribeca Film Festival. The following is Variety Magazine's review of the film. You can read the original blog post about Norrkoping's outdoor movies here.
Two utterly convincing lead performances -- by experienced German thesp Juergen Vogel and Swiss-German actress Sabine Timoteo, a relative newcomer -- sustain "The Free Will," a tough, verismo love story between a jailed rapist and an abused younger woman. However, this ambitious return to the theatrical arena by director Matthias Glasner doesn't fully deliver on a script level, considering its leisurely 163-minute running time. Beyond festival situations this grim, grungy drama will need all the critical support it can get.
Opening reel shows dishwasher Theo Stoer (Vogel) freaking out in a seaside hotel and later viciously beating and raping a passing cyclist (Anna Brass) amid the sand dunes. Nine years later, he's released from psychiatric detention and sent on probation to the Ruhr town of Muehlsheim, where he lodges in a hostel run by social worker Sascha (Andre Hennicke) and gets a job at a printers.
Theo is long off the sex-suppressants, and seemingly in control of the woman-hating demon inside him. But it's clear from the abnormal amount of time he spends working out that his return to the outside world won't be easy.
At the printers, he meets Nettie Engelbrecht (Timoteo), 27-year-old daughter of his boss, Claus (Manfred Zapatka). She's in the midst of moving away from home, much to the distress of her dad, with whom she shares some kind of (unexplained) history of abuse.
Gradually, in a very natural way, Theo and Nettie's paths increasingly collide, with him tracking her down in Belgium where she's working in a chocolate factory. The two eventually get it together, following a beautifully staged, wordless sequence in which they listen to an "Ave Maria" in a church.
Both carry a vast amount of psychological baggage regarding the opposite sex, but they appear to have made a breakthrough. Back in Germany, Nettie confesses she's in love with Theo, but when the latter offhandedly attacks and rapes a woman one night, it's clear he hasn't yet tamed the beast inside him.
Timoteo recalls young German thesp Julia Hummer (with whom she worked in "Ghosts") in her dour but magnetic playing, and she's more than a match for the experienced Vogel in their scenes together. Aside from these two actors, pic manages to keep the viewer hooked simply to see which path the story takes.
In the end, however, there are no real surprises or left turns. Movie could have done with more scenes like the late one where Nettie tracks down one of Theo's former victims (Judith Engel).
Though the denouement is disappointing, last few reels do start to develop into a touching love story as Nettie starts stalking Theo in vague parallel to the way he once stalked his potential victims. Largely thanks to Timoteo's perf, pic finally grapples with the weird love story at script's heart, between a couple kept apart by the same emotional problems that brought them together.
Source: The Free Will -Der Freie Wille (Germany) by Derek Elley, Variety. Read full review at: http://www.variety.com/index.asp?layout=features2006&content=jump&jump=review&head=berlin&nav=RBerlin&articleid=VE1117929600&cs=1&p=0