Written by: Maren Ade
Starring: Birgit Minichmayr, Lars Eidinger, Nicole Marischka, Hans-Jochen Wagner
Vacations allow for the participants to get away from the daily monotony of life and immerse themselves into a different area to wash away normal grievances even if only temporary. However, it can also expose some glaring issues in a relationship as the mix of planning and improvisation necessary shows someone’s true colors outside of what they present on their best days. Everyone Else provides a bit of both serving as a character study on relationships to dread-inducing levels.
Gitti (Birgit Minichmayr) and Chris (Lars Eidinger) begin their Italian vacation enjoying each other’s company with plenty sitting under the surface. Clashing attitudes get even tenser when Chris runs into an old classmate, which complicates things between the couple as comparisons with others begin to tear them apart.
Spontaneity and introversion feel like polar opposites at times, which should theoretically make for a proper balance in a couple. It allows for each individual in the pair to push the other beyond their comfort zones but without the right lubricant, the constant tension can wear out the entire system. The relationship between Gitti and Chris carries a delicacy of how much their differences can keep them together. This vacation to the Italian island of Sardinia had the promise to bring some levity and fun, but everything occurring only further distances them from each other emotionally.
Beginning with bliss but with just the right amount of unease, Gritti and Chris’s relationship starts to unravel when spending time with the latter’s former classmate Hans (Hans-Jochen Wagner) and wife Sana (Nicole Marischka). While the insecurities of their relationship could take a break when on a vacation, where rest should be the priority, Chris’s tether to his past creates a basis of comparison doing no good for anyone. The two couples enjoy an outdoor dinner and the dialogue they have ranges from pleasantries to underhanded insults about where they are in life. Gritti sees it all as ridiculous, but not so much for Chris as he begins to project his shortcomings on his relationship with his partner.
The dinner the couple has with Hans and Sana says plenty about their relationship as the audience initially receives a fairly limited scope of Gitti and Chris interacting with each other. Apparently, spending time on an Italian island villa can cover up plenty of issues right under the surface. The conversations held by Gitti and Chris have plenty of purpose but get presented in an almost aimless manner, which makes sense with it being a vacation. Gitti and Chris did not come to Sardinia to take tours or explore the area, but rather to spend time together in a place unattached to their German reality. This aimlessness matches the mood and the environment, with the conversations themselves cutting deep into how they feel each other and what has remained unspoken for the entirety of their relationship.
While melancholic at times, the way Maren Ade frames each scene and their conversations demonstrates that they should speak about these glaring insecurities sitting right there continually unaddressed. The way Chris reacts to the many things Gitti states in front of others shows someone not on the same page emotionally as the person he’s dating. While uncomfortable for the audience to sit through these deeply personal conversations between the pair, if they plan to have any sort of future, the dialogue needs to be had. Their clashing personalities have been able to mesh for some segments of their relationship, but when it gets directly confronted when compared to another couple, reckoning awaits. For it to happen during a vacation of all times stinks as well.
As a filmmaker, Maren Ade has done nothing but astound me with her complete narrative and tonal control through all of her films. From the dread of The Forest for the Trees and the delightful absurdity of Toni Erdmann, she knows how to pinpoint a story’s emotions and drive it through your heart. With this more melancholic tale in Everyone Else, she masterfully has a hold of the sullen atmosphere taking place in this relationship. The moments of silence feel like an eternity and the feelings sitting right under the surface could come out and wreak havoc at any moment. Such a talented filmmaker who has not missed thus far.
While Everyone Else would not be a film to put on for a first date, the message it conveys about relationships rings vitally true. Communication matters more than ever in our lives and having it not occur when necessary with this couple leads to the hardships they face within the narrative. The duo of leading actors handle their roles competently in showing the feelings being held back in collaboration with their excellent director. One to appreciate on a craft level but also through the potent emotional filmmaking on display.