Two troubled souls collide in a woman’s prison. Two people held captive, one by the prison guards and the other by her past that torments her constantly. Traude Krüger has been teaching the inmates to play piano for the last 60 years. She’s a frail old granny who doesn’t have much time left, but she spends most of it living in regret from her past. Jenny von Loeben, a former child prodigy is in prison for a brutal murder, her youth is being wasted away inside a prison cell because she can’t control her anger.
When the two meet, it’s like a train wreak, but out of the wreak comes hope. Traude can see in Jenny the spark of passion and talent that she once saw some 60 years earlier. It becomes her mission in life to make sure jenny doesn’t waste her talent – though it’s a mission she will only undertake on her on terms.
Attempting to reign in a spirit so wild and free will not be easy and will bring heartache and pain before any fruit is born, but Traude has a surprising level of determination and if only the two of them can find some common ground, something magnificent will be waiting for them.
Four Minutes is a slow starter, it hits some high notes and then settles down before exploding back into life for a final crescendo that makes the whole journey worthwhile. At times the flashbacks into Traude’s past are confusing and annoying, but overall the history is important and plays out well. Hannah Herzsprung’s role as Jenny is amazing; she manages to serve up an emotional performance that will have you riveted whenever she appears on screen. Like wise, though in a more subdued way, Monica Bleibtreu’s portrayal of an old piano teacher living in her past is compelling but her role calls for a lack of passion which enables Hannah to shine all the more powerfully.
Four Minutes in never an easy watch, though it is worthwhile. It deals with some disturbing themes, but proves that no one is beyond redemption.
Food for thought (spoilers):
Matthew 25: 14- 30 talks about talents and what we should do with them. On the surface it may seem like a parable about money management, in reality it is an encouragement for us to use our talents wisely and not to succumb to the fear that destroys the opportunity that God has given us. Such is the role of Traude, who portrays the master whist Jenny is initially the scared servant with one talent, though through grace and dedication she becomes the pride and joy of the master.
Reviewed by: Jonathan Read.
Rating: R13 – Contains Violence, Offensive Language & Content That May Disturb.
Duration: 110 mins.
Genre: Foreign, German.
Director: Chris Kraus.
Actors: Monica Bleibtreu, Hannah Herzsprung, Sven Pippig, Richy Müller.
Release Date: Available now.