In German with English subtitles.
Lola is a control freak of the highest order. Not yet 30, her focus is solely on her work. As a business consultant for a multi-million-dollar company, she’s on the fast-track to becoming an AP (account principal). She has money, a busy travel schedule, a rigorous workout regime, and an affair with her female boss. Everything is well in hand and life is unfolding exactly as Lola wants it. The ground beneath her feet is steady and solid, if not constantly moving, treadmill-like.
Lola is in hotel rooms and offices much more often than her own flat – which, interestingly, is just as sterile – but she seems completely at ease with the way her neat and tidy life is run. Until she gets a phone call from a hospital informing her that her older, schizophrenic half-sister, Conny, has attempted to take her own life.
That’s when Lola’s carefully sewn up life begins to slowly unravel.
Nobody knows about Lola’s family or its history of mental illness. We watch her unconvincingly argue with Conny’s doctor that this wasn’t a suicide attempt, but an accidental overdose, no big deal. Conny claims to Lola that she’s being mistreated by the doctors and hospital staff, but Lola waves it off as Conny’s usual paranoid delusions. She insists to the skeptical medical staff that Conny can come live with her; she’ll take care of her and things will be fine. The thing about having such a death grip on control, though? When one finger begins to slip, the entire hold is weakened, and it isn’t long before Lola starts to panic, wondering if she’s losing her grip not just on the details and order of her life, but on reality itself.
The Ground Beneath My Feet is a gripping psychodrama, and the bleak winter Austrian backdrop only serves to make it feel colder and more barren. Valerie Pachner, in a riveting performance, brings not only a subtlety, but an unexpected sympathy to Lola, even when we want to reach into the screen, shake her, and tell her to stop and look around, that her job isn’t everything. Director Marie Kreutzer does a great job embracing the mess of ambivalence that Lola seems to have, even though we know that beneath the steady, authoritative voice and power suit is a woman who has just realized she’s standing over a fault line and is more than likely freaking out inside as she quietly waits for the earthquake.
~ Georgia Beers
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