Directed by Oskar Roehler, starring Hannelore Elsner, Vadim Glowna, Tonio Arango and Jasmin Tabatabi.
'No Place To Go' is a dark, stark, evocation of Berlin as the Wall was coming down. Based on a true story, it portrays the last days of German intellectual-terrible Gisela Elsner and is directed by her son, Oskar Roehler.
The film follows the central figure of Hanna Flanders (Hannelore Elsner) in her trips around Berlin, a city on the verge of a new epoch. The importance placed on narrative is secondary to actress Hannelore Elsner's towering tour-de-force performance. Throughout 'No Way Out' she strikes the right balance between pity and pathos. The camera follows Flanders through the streets of a Berlin that she hates, and through the last days of a personal crisis. An advocate of socialism, the fall of the wall represents for her the dying of a dream, while all around her the young are celebrating.
Roehler's film shows the hypocrisy of German bourgeois society, which paid lip service to socialist ideals while living a decadent lifestyle. This is a very personal film; and at times Roehler appears to be more interested in the exorcism of his mother's ghost, rather than telling a story. Hanna's painful personal collapse, shot in unforgiving black-and-white, mirrors that of the wall and the realisation that she is a woman out of time, and out of touch with the times, slowly dawns on her. The painful rendering of her total disillusionment is excruciating and unrelenting for the audience.
This film paints a bleak picture of a Berlin that will be unfamiliar to people who remember the joyous pictures when the city was reunited. An alternative view of recent history, Roehler's film is a fantastic achievement, although one that requires some knowledge of the background to Gisela Elsner's life. Without that background, the film is simply another tale of existential crisis and personal misery, which does not do justice to the writing, direction or acting present here.