The filmmaker Lenz has left his native Berlin for the Vosges to research the story behind Georg Büchner's novel fragment Lenz. But he soon trades the Alsatian landscape for higher altitudes: the urge to see his nine-year-old son Noah takes him to the Swiss ski resort of Zermatt. With Noah's help, Lenz stages a reunion with his ex-wife Natalie, whom he still loves. The newfound closeness to his son, and the rekindled love for Natalie, form a brief idyll. But the fantasy of a happy family life is short-lived, overshadowed by Lenz' increasingly erratic behaviour. Noah and Natalie return to Zurich, and Lenz remains in the mountains, alone.
Just as Büchner based his novel on a real episode from the life of the German poet Lenz (1751–1805), Thomas Imbach freely mixes fact and fiction. Like his literary counterpart, the modern-day Lenz is a tortured visionary caught between euphoria and desperation. Imbach's film captures these mood swings with its eclectic visual and aural style. Lenz' turbulent inner states are mirrored by the elemental beauty of the natural landscape. The emotional drama of the main characters plays against a background of kitsch global tourism – provided by the authentic Zermatt locations and real people appearing in the village scenes. The intimately filmed scenes of romantic and family life provide a telling glimpse into the realities of contemporary relationships.
Film and video, staging and improvisation, actors and amateurs, tender love story and slapstick comedy: Imbach blends seeming opposites into an organic whole, underscored by an intense, dramatic soundtrack combining folk songs, pop music and re-processed natural sounds.
An unconventional, stormy portrait of a man whose life motto echoes the Romantic poets: Genius writes its own rules.
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