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Rooms (Zimmer)

Nikolai Kinski in "Zimmer" (photo © Zum Goldenen Lamm/Alex Garbe)

Production Report featured in
German Films Quarterly 01/2009

The 28-year-old German-American Daniel moves into his dead grandmother’s flat. The neighbors – an appropriately weird bunch inhabiting a once grand but now down-at-heel building (as befits a psycho-thriller) – soon awake his memory of a past crime. Especially the room at the end of the hall exerts an increasing pull on him.

The second part of the film tells Daniel’s story in flashbacks. He has separated from his wife and takes some time out in Tangiers, where he meets a prostitute with whom he forms a relationship. Soon, she and her young son move into his holiday home. But then Daniel brings home an Austrian who subsequently murders the boy. Amazingly, the killer wheedles himself out of the situation and escapes. Daniel’s values system and perception of the world are shattered, and so it comes, together with his awakening sense of guilt, to a third act catastrophe.

Zimmer (“Rooms”) is a psycho-thriller, which draws its thrill from the interplay of the two narrative levels,” producer Ruediger Heinze explains. “Things, which are implied on one level play out in the other. The dramaturgy is a spiral, the ends of which steer inexorably towards catastrophe. The whole thing lies with Daniel, a modern figure who, like many of his generation, finds himself searching for his own roots and values in a world increasingly without orientation.”

Director and screenplay author Michael Dreher draws inspiration for Zimmer from Polanski’s The Tenant, Hitchcock’s Rear Window and Inárritu’s Amores Perros. As in those films, “the narrative perspective is the central point. If the present is narrated from Daniel’s perspective, subjectively, the perspective in the past is objective. The rootless German-American is trapped in his thoughts and perceptions and due to the subjective narrative, the viewer is too. My aim is to lead the viewer and then, with the final scene of the film, to turn things so that he then recognizes the true relationships.”

Nikolai Kinski, who plays Daniel, found the character of a man who is caught between all stools and is wrecked by his own powerlessness, to be tailor made. In addition to which, Kinski is able to speak German with an American inflection. This permanent auditory evidence of his rootlessness, his lack of a “Heimat” as Germans would say, was invaluable to understanding the character.

And co-star Katharina Schuettler has put in many a stunning performance and is a proud holder of the Foerderpreis junger deutscher Film and was voted the Theater heute Actress of the Year 2006.

Genre Psycho Thriller
Category Feature
Year of Production 2009
Director Michael Dreher
Screenplay Michael Dreher
Cinematography Ian Blumers
Wolfgang Weigel
Anne Schlaich
Cast Nikolai Kinski, Katharina Schüttler, Judith Engel, Matthias Matschke
Producers Rüdiger Heinze, Karim Debbagh, Rainer Kölmel
Production Company Zum Goldenen Lamm Filmproduktion/Ludwigsburg, in co-production with Starhaus Filmproduktion/Munich, Kasbah Films/Tangier
Format 35 mm, color
 German, English
Sound Technology Dolby Digital
With backing from FilmFernsehFonds Bayern, MFG Baden-Württemberg, German Federal Film Fund / DFFF Deutscher Filmförderfonds, BKM
German Distributor STUDIOCANAL/Berlin

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