German director Hans Weingartner's unpredictable and hugely entertaining second feature takes a hard look at Germany's troubled history of political protest while offering a refreshingly optimistic vision for the future. Best friends Jan (Daniel Bruhl) and Peter (Stipe Erceg) have found a way to take their activism against globalization and Third World exploitation to the next level: They break into the elegant homes of the city's rich and powerful, not to burgle but to jolt the owners out of their bourgeois complacency by messing with their private spaces. After making sure no one is home, Peter and Jan rearrange the furniture, flood the living room, stuff treasured knickknacks into the toilet and stick expensive stereo systems in the fridge. On their way out, they leave a note warning the unlucky homeowners that their "days of plenty are numbered" and sign it, simply, "The Edukators." When Peter takes off for a trip to Barcelona, he asks Jan to keep an eye on his girlfriend, waitress Jule (Julia Jentsch), who's struggling to pay off the 100,000 euro debt she incurred slamming her car into an expensive Mercedes that belongs to wealthy businessman Hardenberg (Burghart Klaussner). Unbeknownst to Peter, Jan has a huge crush on Jule, and after explaining how she's being ruthlessly exploited to help pay for Hardenberg's lavish lifestyle, Jan lets her in on the Edukators operation. Fired up by Jan's speech and thrilled by the sexual sparks flying between them, Jule convinces a reluctant Jan to creepy-crawl through Hardenberg's lakefront villa. Jule subsequently realizes she's dropped her cell phone somewhere in the house, but when they return the following night to find it, they run into Hardenberg himself. Just back from Spain, Peter gets a panicked call from his best buddy and his best girl, who are now holding a wealthy stranger hostage in his own home. Faced with the option of going to jail or turning the whole thing into an RAF-styled political kidnapping, they hide out in a remote alpine cabin until they decide what to do next. Hardenberg, however, isn't exactly the capitalist fiend they expected. A student of '68, he, too, once shared the same ideals as his kidnappers and now wonders what happened to the man he once was. While openly acknowledging the failures of the past, Weingartner and cowriter Katharina Held hold out hope, even in an age when rebellion itself has become a cheap commodity. The best ideas, they assert, survive, and it's up to each successive generation to learn from those who went before them. Bruhl once again gives an astonishing performance — no surprise to anyone who caught him in the excellent GOOD BYE, LENIN! — that further cements his reputation as one of his generation's most gifted actors.
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- Released: 2004
- Rating: R
- Review: German director Hans Weingartner's unpredictable and hugely entertaining second feature takes a hard look at Germany's troubled history of political protest while offering a refreshingly optimistic vision for the future. Best friends Jan (Daniel Bruhl) and… (more)