she is the one Grande Dame of German film: Iris Berben has been in front of the camera for over 50 years and has left her mark on the media landscape, most clearly in 31 episodes as the title heroine “Rosa Roth”. A few days before her 71st birthday, the ARD shows again the best performance of her long career so far: “Hanne”, a 2019 TV movie for which she worked with acclaimed German director Dominik Graf.
She plays the older lady Hanne Dührsen, who actually only wanted a few varicose veins removed when her doctor told her on Friday afternoon: There is a suspicion of blood cancer. The results of a more detailed investigation should come on Monday morning. Now it’s time for the retiree: wait and see. And for the audience: lean back and a German film masterpiece enjoy!
Hanne: A role made for Iris Berben
It is as if the script was written by Beate Langmaack especially for Iris Berben. The role as a pensioner, who learns to appreciate her own life anew through a terrible diagnosis, unites all of her strengths: Berben has always stood out for her subtle versatility the end. And Hanne changes tremendously in the 90 minutes of the film, which Dominik Graf divides into 12 chapters. She wakes up from a life in which she has not felt right for a long time and determines what she actually wants in her remaining time on earth.
At the same time, Berben was always said to appear very controlled, to plan their appearances carefully. There she is like her character Hanne: She, too, likes to have her life firmly under control and knows exactly what will happen next. Such similarities allow her to merge with her character in front of the camera – and it seems reasonable to conclude that Dominik Graf and “Hanne” a hidden declaration of love to Iris Berben has staged.
One of the best German films in years
Dominik Graf, who just like Beate Langmaack and Iris Berben received a Grimme Prize for “Hanne”, gives the film its own masterful touch. He does not show the protagonist’s search for meaning as a clumsy, melancholy drama, but prefers to celebrate life in all its facets. In addition, each of the twelve chapters has its own visual style: One passage quotes very clearly from the French classic “Cleo – Wednesday between 5 and 7”. Another section relies on wild zooms and imitates the style of spaghetti westerns. As fitting, Iris Berben’s first major international film appearance actually took place in 1970 in the spaghetti western “Zwei Compañeros”.
In this way, Graf is one of his best and one of the best German films in recent years overall successful. The tightrope walk of telling a drama in the face of the approaching death from cancer with humor, ease and optimism has succeeded. And without a doubt, he owes that to a large extent to his leading actress. Iris Berben is even more of an icon in “Hanne” than she was before. It is all the more sad that the film has already been shown on television, but never appeared on DVD or Blu-ray.
So be sure to watch it when it’s on TV: “Hanne” will be broadcast on Wednesday, August 4th, 2021 at 8:15 p.m. on ARD broadcast.