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Germany 2007
Directed by
Christian Petzold
89 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars


Winner of four Lolas, the German Academy Awards, including for Best Picture, Yella will probably resonate most with audiences who understand the socio-economic context of the “New Germany” than for others, but it is, nevertheless, an intriguingly low key thriller from writer-director Christian Petzold, who was inspired by the 1962 U.S.exploitation film, Carnival of Souls.

The title refers not to a colour but to a woman, Yella, convincingly portrayed by Nina Hoss, who has also appeared in the director’s two previous feature films, Wolfsburg and The State I Am In. Yella lives in a small East German town and has recently separated from her distraught and unstable husband, Ben (Hinnerk Schönemann) whose business has also recently gone bust, leaving him doubly traumatized. Having gotten a job in the West she reluctantly allows Ben to give her a lift to the train station but he drives them off a bridge and into the Elbe. She survives that but gets to her place of new employment to find that they too have gone bust. She meets Philipp (Devid Striesow), a “venture capitalist” and finds she has quite a flair for the corporate hustle. That is, until she strikes out on her own and things go very wrong.

To be honest there is not a whole lot going on plot-wise and even then it is more allusive than explicit. This is where the contextual aspect comes in, for the film is at least in part a commentary on modern German capitalism and its moral corrosion. For the rest of us, simply enjoy the film for Hoss’s fine performance and Petzold’s quietly intense, economical unfolding of the narrative although whether everyone will be satisfied by the its ending is another matter.




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