Love is messy, and it's not always kind. That's the familiar lesson that the characters in Franziska Schlotterer's period drama Closed Season learn the hard way. Bruno (Max Mauff) finally meets his long-lost father Albert (Christian Friedel) after his mother's passing and learns that he is the product of an unorthodox wartime affair. Back in World War II, the impotent farmer Fritz (Hans-Jochen Wagner) and his wife Emma (Brigitte Hobmeier) take in a Jewish refugee (Friedel) and make him a strange offer. In desperate need of an heir, Fritz demands the young man sleep with his wife in exchange for safety against local Nazis. But nothing is fair in love and war, and the gentlemen's agreement proves a great risk to them all.
The story-within-a-story conceit is a bit cumbersome, especially at first. However, once Schlotterer has wrapped the audience up in the WWII-era drama, the film evens out to predictable love triangle. The plot is rather simple as jealousy and suspicion arise both in and out of the household; you can almost predict where the story is headed until the last few moments. It's that last pull of the rug from underneath the audience that leaves the biggest impression.
As Schlotterer's feature debut, Closed Season shows a promising eye for detail. Most of the drama encircles three protagonists on a spacious and remote farm, yet they're constantly running into each other, exacerbating unspoken tensions. Its awkward relationships takes a while to kindle, but the fireworks are worth it.
Franziska SchlottererBrigitte Hobmeier, Hans-Jochen Wagner, Christian Friedel, Thomas Loibl, Rami Heuberger, Max Mauff, Michaela Eshet, Ayala Meidan, Mike Maas, Wolfgang PackhäuserFranziska Schlotterer, Gwendolyn BellmannPhilipp Homberg, Christian Drewing