Walter Gasperi

The antithesis (...) is "I Am Here," with which Ludwig Wüst once again proves himself to be the Austrian master of slow cinema. Two people and a walk in the woods are enough for Wüst to develop a drama about agonizing memories and the search for happiness in life that is as minimalist as it is intense.

In long, calm shots, Wüst follows his 50-something protagonists, played famously by Martina Spitzer and Markus Schramm. They grew up in the same village, have known each other since childhood, but have not seen each other for decades. While they now walk through the forest together again, the woman soon tells of the death of her mother, who visited her in the nursing home again and again in the last months of her life, and the man of his father and mother as well as of a relationship with a prostitute.

Just as the man digs a hole in the woods with a shovel, memories are first unearthed here, but later these memories are burned and buried with old photos in a harvested field. A liberation and a new beginning seems possible only with the reappraisal of this past, and so the film also abruptly switches to Egypt at the end and ends with an emphasis on the present, when the man's hand writes "I Am Here" on a leaf.

In its renunciation of any classical plot structure and its limitation to two characters, "I Am Here" stands in opposition to conventional cinema. But in the long, calm images of nature, in the silence that Wüst leaves room for, and in the intense narratives of Spitzer and Schramm, which seem so authentic that they are touching, this film, shot on analog 16-mm material, develops great beauty and intensity, as long as one gets involved in its slow narrative rhythm.