Language spoken: German, Bulgarian | Subtitles: Dutch
“searing, observational cinema; “subtle and perceptive”
In the sweltering summer heat a group of German construction workers find themselves in the middle of nowhere in rural Bulgaria, where they are to build a small hydroelectric power station. All their attention soon shifts to the inhabitants of the nearby village.
Macho confrontations, romance and close friendships fill the air. Everything seems so normal. The construction workers are boorish but they also enjoy camaraderie. All except for Meinhard, the mysterious loner who doesn’t really fit in. A Clint Eastwood type, silent, tanned and self-reliant, he seems to be searching for something different. Despite the language barrier he soon makes friends with one of the locals – and faces the consequences.
The wonderful camera work and phenomenal acting of Meinhard and others make for a compelling two hours. Western is about how Western Europe relates to Eastern Europeans. It’s about the law of the jungle, freedom, brotherhood, rootlessness and wanting to belong to a group. A rich allegory with apt metaphors.