Everyone Else (2009): German Maren (Toni Erdmann) Ade’s Second Feature

The German film, “Everyone Else,” the second feature from the gifted director Maren Ade, offers a multi-faceted, multi-nuanced, extremely powerful dissection of a newly formed couple whose relationship is pushed to the brink while vacationing in the Mediterranean island of Sardinia.
World-premiering at the 2009 Berlin Film Fest, where it won the Grand Jury Prize and the Best Actress Prize for Birgit Minichmayr, “Everyone Else” was also an official selection of the 2009 New York Film Fest. Cinema Guild releases the worthy film in a platform mode, first in N.Y. and L.A. and then in other cities.
Be warned: It’s not an easy movie to watch, and it may contain moments that may force you to reflect on your own love relationships. 
Arde describes “Everyone Else” as a film “about a new love relationship that hasn’t endured much. The ground rules haven’t been set and everyone is still afraid to completely reveal oneself. I was intrigued by this newly created intricate and unique entity that two people form when they enter into a relationship. It’s such a chaotic meshwork of desires, secrets, demands, power structures and rituals.” 
It’s quite an accurate depiction of her mature, quietly absorbing drama, whose cumulative power is a result of many disparate moments. Aptly titled, “Everyone Else” provides an uncompromisingly intimate look at an alternately loving and feuding newly-formed couple by depicting in ultra-realistic ways the ins and outs, moves and countermoves, sweet and sour nature of love.
When we first meet Chris  (Lars Eidinger) and Gitti (Birgit Minichmayr) they seem happy and perfectly in love while enjoying their time in Sardinia. Nonetheless, it soon becomes clear that beneath their playful romps, secret rituals and silly habits there are underlying, perhaps unresolvable tensions, based on their different personalities and different expectations of what their bond should (and could) be.
I particularly like the unpredictable way that the filmmaker dispenses background information about her protagonists. It takes some time to learn that Chris is a struggling, perhaps even a visionary architect, and Gitti a music publicist.
Are Gitti and Chris the products or victims of their socialization process, cultural milieus, societal expectations of how men and women should express their feelings of love and attitudes toward sex. The ensuing provocative tale suggests that the answer is yes and no. The idiosyncratic Gitti is full of verve and fearless in expressing her love and devotion for Chris. In contrast, Chris is more reserved in his outlook on life and love. 
But there are surprising interactions that certainly deviate from societal norms regarding masculinity and femininity. So long as Chris and Gitti exist in their isolated, almost hermetic sphere, they are comfortable in their bodies. In their uniquely defined interaction, he is sometimes the more “feminine” partner; he performs a dance to Willie Nelson and Julio Iglesias’ “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before” under Gitti’s gaze. For her part, Gitti is seen performing a rather pointed example of bad parenting, struggles to put on a dress, and generally emitting the kind of confident air that we normally associate with masculinity.
It’s all-relative, you might say. When they accidentally run into another, obviously happier and more successful couple the already fragile relationship between Chris and Gitti get even more destabilized. 
With their inner fears and basic insecurities brutally exposed, will Chris and Gitti get a second chance to discover themselves and each other and to be as happy as everyone else? To the director’s credit, she leaves many of these questions ambiguous, or rather open, and “Everyone Else” may be the type of films that leads to different, even opposing interpretations. 
As anatomy of love, put under the scrutiny of magnifying glasses, “Everything Else” is everything and anything but the representations that we get from generic Hollywood movies about newly formed couples. There are soft, sweet, and lyrical moments, but not cute or cutesy ones. The dialogue is authentic and grounded, lacking the witty one-liners we often get in American films. Perhaps more importantly, the two actors are just as fearless as the characters they embody in exploring and exposing their bodies, souls, and minds.
About the Director
Maren Ade was born in 1976 in Karlsruhe, Germany. She studied producing and directing at the University of Television & Film in Munich. Her feature film debut, “The Forest for the Trees (2003),” her graduation film, played at several film festivals, was nominated for the German Film Award, and won the Special Jury Award at the 2005 Sundance Film Fest, where I saw it.