Have the corporations reduced us to slaves? Is our individuality lost to a few men so they can make big dollars? Are we doomed to go about our lives under the will of someone else? These are some of the questions raised in the crime drama "The Edukators," about the adventures of three idealists who get into trouble when their simple attempt to commit vandalism spirals out of control.
"The Edukators," a German import, is an intriguing blend of crime, youthful love and social commentary. The film follows Jan (Daniel Bruhl), Jule (Julia Jentsch) and Peter (Stipe Erceg), three youths fed up with their lives as lower-class citizens. Jan and Peter are especially extreme in their views and have taken to breaking into mansions and rearranging the furniture in an attempt to scare the rich inhabitants. When Jan convinces Peter's girlfriend Jule to come along on a "heist," however, two things happen: a relationship begins between the two of them, and Jule leaves her cell phone behind. When they return for the incriminating device, they happen upon the millionaire owner and are forced to make a decision - go to jail or take him with them. They take to the hills of Germany and what ensues is a test of loyalty, trust and political conviction.
Superbly acted and well-written, "The Edukators" raises a lot of questions that more young people should be asking these days, but manages to hide its idealism in a cool story that keeps you guessing while remaining believable. You don't have to agree with all of the characters' ideas to accept that there is something wrong with the world today; in fact, you don't have to agree at all. Most intriguing is the love triangle that evolves throughout the film; the four actors (including Burghart Klaußner, who plays the rich businessman to perfection) play well off each other, and Klaußner is especially good as the caring but manipulative victim.
"The Edukators" does run a few minutes too long, but holds its pace throughout most of the movie. The biggest problem may be an inability to fully relate with the characters. Not only do the three young people do some really stupid things to dig themselves deeper, but some of their ideas are pretty extreme. Some more conservative audience members may be turned off by protagonists that have such different views.
Nevertheless, "The Edukators" is a cool drama-thriller that unfortunately will never be seen by most Americans, when we are the ones who should get the most meaning out of it. If it comes to a theater near you, "The Edukators" is highly recommended.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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