Bleak, violent and intense, director Chris Kraus’ downer of a drama joins the ranks of German films struggling to confront the nation’s disturbed history. Serving time in a woman’s prison, musical prodigy turned sociopath Jenny (a credibly raw debut from Hannah Herzsprung) forms a deep bond with severe, elderly piano teacher Traude (Monica Traude). Sharing an equally dark past, the older woman pushes Jenny into an upcoming contest. Flashbacks and giddy camerawork mixed with a sombre grey-blue palette reinforce the emotional wasteland. Jenny’s talent is the saving grace amid all the annihilation, though her stunts (like playing hell-for-leather, hands cuffed behind back) threaten corniness. Obvious and overwrought though Four Minutes is, if you can grit your teeth through its grimness, this is time well spent.
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