"The Other Boy": A Crime Film with a Difference By Ashok Rane
by Ashok Rane
The Other Boy (Der andere Junge), a film by Volker Einrauch of Germany, was one of the most talked about films of the competition section in Montreal. It’s simply an amazing film in terms of story, script, direction, and performances. All these elements make the film a complete cinematic expression. Lothar Kurzawa’s brilliant subtle script, especially, is extremely challenging with its two parallel tracks.
The powerful plot could have been like any other crime film. Though on the surface, the film seems more like a family drama and focuses on the relationship between two friends, one finds a plot very close to a crime film, but not like any other crime film. The Morells and The Wagners live near each other in a suburb of Hamburg. The fathers have been very close friends for ages and have worked in the same office for years. Both families meet very often and enjoy a very harmonious relationship. What they are unaware of is the animosity between their sons. Robert and Paul are in the same school. Robert is introvert while, on the other hand, Paul is not only extrovert but also an aggressive, domineering sadist. Though both are in the same class Robert looks a little younger than Paul. Paul constantly harasses him very violently and sadistically. Robert suffers a lot but keeps everything to himself. One day, Paul puts a revolver in Robert’s hand and asks him to shoot him. He thinks the dull boy will shake with the revolver in his hand. But what happens is totally unexpected. Robert shoots Paul. When Robert’s parents comes home they are shocked. The story takes an altogether different turn here. Though they are very down to earth, simple middle class people, now they suddenly become very scheming kind, especially the father. Robert’s mother is a little bit reluctant to join her husband in his plan to cover Robert’s crime but she is compelled to do so because of her husband. They dump the body of Paul somewhere, and pretend that nothing has happened. The father tells Robert to behave normally and attend school as usual. His mother tells him to keep mum about what has happened. She constantly monitors him and especially she is more alert when Robert meets Paul’s mother. Robert’s parents attend the funeral of Paul and consoles his them. From then on, the plot takes many unexpected twists and turns.
The best part of the story is, how the characters react on two different levels, whether knowingly or unknowingly. The Other Boy points out that a criminal could be hiding in us all.