As director and writer, Margarethe von Trotta is known for her female-centric films giving an intimate portrait of their aspirations and relationships from a feminine point-of-view. Until recently however, I’d only been aware of her as an actress – she had appeared in several films by RW Fassbinder before becoming a director. Her drama, “Iche bin die Andere” [Eng. Title: I am the Other Woman] concerns a woman with a seemingly split-personality as a result of a traumatic event during her childhood.
Architect Robert Fabry arrives at Frankfurt on business and meets Alice aka Carlotta unexpectedly at the hotel he’s staying. He assumes her to be a call-girl – she behaves like one in any case, and he takes her to his room, only to notice the following morning that it is she who’d ‘paid’ for his services. Not only that, he will learn soon enough that she’s also Carolin Winter, the consultant hired to work on his business contract. What was just a casual fling becomes an obsession – he breaks his engagement with fiancée Britta and pursues Carolin, before long falling in love with this mysterious woman. But just as he manages to win Carolin’s heart, he will realise that he has a formidable rival to contend with in winning her total commitment – her father Karl, who had successfully manipulated her earning for his approval since childhood…
On paper, this complex storyline promises nothing short of high drama – of a young girl’s desperation to win her father’s approval, love, and loaded with overtones of potentially consensual incest. There is also the scenario of a fiancée forcing herself to help the person who broke their engagement. And not least the conflicting emotions of a woman who likes to move on but couldn’t give up her past. But it is difficult if not impossible to do full justice to all of it in a single film – it should have been a TV-serial. And just because it isn’t, a lot of the impact is lost due to the frequent but inevitable gaps in the film’s narrative. The impressive as ever Katja Riemann carries through her character of Carolin as much as she could, but alas it isn’t enough to conceal the glaring gaps – it is a case of interesting characterisation overshadowed by inadequate screenplay. Ms. Riemann scorches the screen with her unbridled sensuality regardless, but I couldn’t help feeling the casting choice for Robert, her character’s love interest played by August Diehl, makes her look more like a cougar rather than a serious lover – an obvious mismatch. But for Katja Riemann fans, this film will nevertheless be Recommended Viewing.