Review: SOLDATE JEANETTE Is A European Film Conspiracy Challenging Viewing Habits
Austrian art house flick Soldate Jeanette by Daniel Hoesl does not hide its rebellious tendencies. In big letters "A European Film Conspiracy" appears on the screen at the beginning of the film. It stands for a certain style of thinking and shooting low-budget but it is also a challenge for the audience in terms of viewing habits.
Protagonist Fanni lives in a strange world of rejection. She is of bourgeois decent but stops to pay her bills. Nevertheless she keeps her decadent lifestyle. As in the case of Danny Boyle's Trainspotting (though without the drugs) a modern rebellion of "Not to" unfolds. Fanni just stops and thus inspires revolution.
She escapes to a rural area, a farm, and meets Anna, a young woman with problems that completely differ from hers. But both of them get together and liberate themselves. It is almost an abstract tale that unfolds here, a tale of emancipation and hate. Two women who want to break free and therefore escape.
It is the existentialist alternative to going to demonstrations or being an activist. It is striking that Hoesl is not interested in identification at all. He does not glorify his protagonists or give them some revolutionary romanticism. Sometimes their actions even feel morally wrong.
Soldate Jeannete is seducing, an interesting flick always oscillating between hilarious satire and human melodrama, it leaves you groping in the dark: Where will it lead to? Hoesl goes so far that sometimes one gets lost in his pictures, watching without any connection at all.
The use of music is reminiscent of the Nouvelle Vague and the lyrics count as much as the melodies. There was no proper screenplay and one can almost feel the energy and creativity behind the process while watching the film.
If there is something wrong with the movie it is its tendency to capture cheap revolutionist moments like cutting to a slaughterhouse or overstressed capitalism like a close-up of a pearl necklace during a conversation or an excessive salesman in a ladies' wear store. Even the last image of the movie screams for those tendencies as it shows a car being destroyed. Hoesl wanted to make sure the audience gets just how ridiculous rebellious he is.
The stronger moments appear when the Soldate Jeanette serves as an attack on the attack. It begins as a bold criticism of the bourgeoisie but as soon as someone might jump on the bandwagon it also denunciates rural life. Rural traditions are not resolutions of urban prisons as they are both loaded with injustice and wrong ideals.
Presenting two women of different worlds Hoesl seems to say that rebellion always lies in the eye of the beholder. If they switch their existence both have succeeded and failed at the same time. Revolution as such seems to be the core of their success but what will be gained? The same can be said of the movie itself.
Soldate Jeanette is now showing in Austrian cinemas.