Slow moving and predictable.
Yella (2007) is a surreal film; what seemed to be a straightforward story of a woman attempting to escape her unstable, abusive ex-husband in her former East German town of Wittenberge to seek a new life in Hanover slowly began to take a confusing turn, culminating to an ending that just left me perplexed. The synopsis for Yella makes the film seem far more intriguing than the entire film truly is.
Nina Hoss stars in the movie as Yella Fichte, an accountant with unforgettable cold eyes, who has just received a job offer she couldn’t turn down across the Elbe River. Her former husband, Ben (Hinnerk Schönemann), served as her business partner in their company before it went under. He refuses to believe that his wife would leave him, and eventually starts to think it was because of their financial issues. Ben follows her everywhere, even at her father’s (Christian Redl) workplace, and on the day of her departure he offers her a ride to the train station. Why in the world she accepted this offer was puzzling and in a fit of rage, he drives them off of the bridge crossing the Elbe.
Hoss’s character is a perplexing one–she hardly speaks throughout the entire film. The audience is left to watching her eyes and facial expressions attempt to understand what she is thinking. At first, we are presented a battered woman who desires a joyful life in the West. Upon arriving in Hanover, she discovers her would be employer Schmitt-Ott (Michael Wittenborn) is a crook who was just released from his company. Yella then returns to her hotel and meets a gentleman named Philipp (Devid Striesow) in the lobby. The two quickly become business partners due to Yella’s impressive accounting and negotiation skills, which in turn slowly causes her compassion to fade. The corrupt, cold capitalize that prevails in the West is far different from her warm, rustic life in the East.
She soon finds that she cannot escape her past, as she sees Ben everywhere. But this is when the everything begins to get weird–Ben is dead. One is left to ponder if Yella is being followed by his ghost, or if she’s hallucinating due to trauma. Philipp, as we come to find, eerily shares traits with both Ben and her father (right down to the peculiar way they peel oranges). Her new lover Philipp is a scam artist. He steals money for his indulgences and slowly lures Yella into his manipulative world.
Finally, the apex of abnormality–the ending. Was everything seen in the film only the silent desires of Yella’s soul–or does it have an alternate meaning? A meaning that cannot be understood. Overall an extremely slow moving and predictable feature–disorienting.