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|Laufzeit:||Approx. 106 min.|
|FSK:||From 0 years|
The Austrian writer Stefan Zweig (Josef Hader) has achieved world fame with his books. But as early as 1934 he was forced to leave his homeland to go into exile. Nevertheless he does not want to take a political stand at his participation in the P.E.N. Congress in Buenos Aires in 1936. And even when he visits his first wife Friderike (Barbara Sukowa) in New York in 1941, he resists using his influence to help other people flee from the Nazis. But even when he finds a supposed paradise in Petrópolis far away from the war and settles here with his second wife Lotte, he has to realize that a sense of responsibility, guilt and suffering cannot simply be repressed…
With "Vor der Morgenröte - Stefan Zweig in Amerika" Maria Schrader dares to undertake a rather difficult and ambitious undertaking. Using six episodes from the last years of Stefan Zweig's life staged in real time, she tries not only to create a portrait of the writer, but also to tell an image of the decline of Europe and a story of flight and a new homeland. On the one hand, this avoids the usual pitfalls of conventional biopics. On the other hand, a very multi-layered and profound dramaturgy is created that goes far beyond what the film superficially wants to tell.
With Josef Hader, Schrader has landed a real coup. Actually rather subscribed to comedic roles, the actor and cabaret artist can inspire with a very restrained, nuanced performance that perfectly reflects Zweig's inner dichotomy. All these are very strong arguments that actually speak for the fact that "Vor der Morgenröte" has become a very big arthouse cinema. But this is unfortunately only conditionally the case. As interesting as the approach may be and as strong as Hader's play may be, it cannot be denied that the staging is extremely bulky, tough and exhausting.
That becomes clear right at the beginning when the audience has to watch for minutes how a table is set and the guests then sit down at it, before a speech of praise is given to the guest of honour Stefan Zweig. It may be that this kind of real-time narration achieves a certain authenticity. But the patience of the audience is always put to a damn hard test by such moments. For those who can't stay on the ball with full attention, most of the scenes will seem rather trivial and sluggish. The really interesting overall picture that emerges from the interplay of the individual snapshots cannot then be revealed. And if that is the case, then "Before the Dawn" is not an intellectual treat, but simply a really exhausting fight against boredom. Therefore: Only for really open-minded arthouse cinema lovers and all those who are interested in the last years of Stefan Zweig's life, with a few small exceptions worth seeing!
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