German Film Week at IFI: Cracks in the Shell

The German Film Week at the IFI continued on Friday evening with a screening of Christian Schwochow’s impressive Cracks in the Shell. Schwochow again coaxes a wonderful performance from his lead actress. In his  2008 debut film, November Child, Anna Maria Muehe was stunning in her dual role as both the mother in 1980s East German and the daughter in modern-day Germany in Schwochow’s emotional drama.

This time Schwochow has Danish actress Stine Fischer Christensen putting in a remarkable performance. Christensen plays Josephine, an aspiring actress who is cast to play the lead in a performance of Camille. Josephine lives at home with her mother and younger sister Jule, who is brain-damaged’ and it’s clear from the start that acting is a means for her to escape herself and her frustrations.

Her introverted fragility and vulnerability are seized upon by Svengali-like theatrical director Kasper Friedemann, who bullies Josephine into performing beyond her natural limits to realize the role of Camille – a sexually aggressive yet self-destructive character. As a result, Josephine begins to lose control of her own identity as she falls into the role of Camille, which leads her down a dark path.

Cracks in the Shell has been compared to Black Swan and while both films do indeed share similar themes, Schwochow’s film never ventures into the camp excessive territory of Aronofsky and as a result plays as a more disturbing piece and a more uncomfortable film to watch. Made all the more powerful by Stine Fischer Christensen devastating central performance.

The German Film week continues this evening with Almanya: Welcome To Germany, Yasemin and Nesrin Samdereli’s comedy of Germany’s migrant workers.

Tickets are available from the IFI Box Office on 01 679 3477 or online at

Steven Galvin


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