Before the war overshadowed everything else, another grief was often heard of in Ukraine: the exploitation of women who had left their families to care for the elderly and sick in Germany. As low-paid nurses, some without a residency permit, they live in constant fear of losing this meager income.
The film “Rival” by Markus Lenz is about this injustice. It would not be a consolation for Ukrainians that the Russian attack on their country at least led to a warmer welcome here. The gorgeous young actor Lenz, Elizar Nazarenko, who plays 9-year-old Roman, is now 14 years old. He was forced to flee to Berlin with his mother, while his father and older brother were fighting in the war.
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The fact that the misery in the world has increased so much since the making of this movie does not change its agonizing effect. Few Romans grew up in rural Ukraine. Then his grandmother died and he had to be smuggled in a truck to Germany to his mother. It’s hard to bear how this skinny boy was hidden among the crates so that the border officials couldn’t find him. Lenz’s film works like this: it hurts in a very tangible way, because you feel everything in common with Roman. The camera stays so close to him, from his chubby cheeks, to his shoulders, that the bones are instantly visible under his skin. But pain always has a second level, and that is the political level.
Despite the pain, “Rivale” also has a nice comic element
Upon arriving in Germany, the hiding continues. Roman’s mother Oksana lives with Geert, but no one is allowed to know that she is there. Geert’s wife, who took care of her, is already dead. Of course, Roman hates Gert, although he does care about him. Young ancient Roman’s anger shines through his pallid complexion. The first attempt to kill children did not last long.
Then Oksana has to go to the hospital with a ruptured appendix, and soon the police are standing in front of the apartment of retired Geert. He is also now a criminal. Although perhaps years ago he was just a man who wanted to keep his ailing wife at home and was only able to afford care illegally. He’s not the bad guy here either.
But how can a nine-year-old who does not understand a word understand it? After all, why all this? How is it against the law to bring an only child to its mother? Why does Oxana have to stay with Gerd if she wants to be well, that is, financially secure, um? This is all wrong and Roman is right.
He ended up standing in the woods, gun in hand, screaming at the mushroom picker like a frightened animal with no way out. Despite all the pain one feels when watching it, “Rivale” – yes, yes – also has a moderate comedic level, due to the fact that the proportions are very ridiculous. Like a damn bad joke.
CompetitionD 2022 – Directed by: Markus Lenz, Screenplay: Lars Hubrich, M. Linz. Camera: Frank Aman. With: Elizar Nazarenko, Udo Samil, Maria Bruni. Dropout, 96 min. Theatrical release: June 2, 2022.