Run time: 189 mins
The life of painter Gerhard Richter is loosely adapted in this kaleidoscopic 30-year journey through every human emotion.
As a young boy, Kurt Barnert witnesses his aunt being taken away by the Nazis under suspicion of schizophrenia. It is she who nurtured his interest in art. After the war, whilst studying painting at the Dresden art school, he falls in love with Elisabeth, a beautiful fashion student. Unbeknownst to Kurt, her father, who is now an eminent gynaecologist, was responsible for his aunt’s euthanasia.
Writer-director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, the mind behind Oscar-winning The Lives of Others, has a gift for heightening and exploring that can range from harrowing to heartfelt, and he hits all the right beats here. Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Oscars, it’s yet another recent triumph of German cinema and Donnersmarck confirms a gift for mainstream storytelling that few contemporaries can match. Whilst Never Look Away is a film about art, and more precisely the process of its creation, there’s much, much more going on under its shimmering surface. A sumptuous and elegant drama. (Research Chris Coetsee)