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on 27 April 2016
As you see the director's profile, you will find out that he had made a lot of documentaries before. You will find out that this film is like one of the documentary as well althouh it is a fiction story that he created.
If you see the poster or the artwork of the dvd, you will feel that this might be some kind of pornographic film but it is far from it. The director is wise enough to make the audiences' attention, to draw more people's attention to come and see his movie. That is the reason why he made more explicit nude shots. It is not all about nudity and explicit exposure of women's body shots and there is a reason why he made this film.
There are two main charactors in this film. One is a woman who is an ex-nurse who is from Ukrania that came to Austria after being fired, and another man who is a night security guard who is from Austria to Ukrania looking for a job. Both are suffering for having no job. But they are quite different.

Now that's the point of this movie I guess.
The woman did all kinds of things to survive. She did sex chatting with the internet camera. It was really pain because the man inside the internet always asked all kinds of dirty things to her by shouting and screaming to her and it was really not comfortable for her. Such as spreading her legs, showing her thing more closer and all. The thing is she is not a professional prostitute and all that things that men are asking is really pain thing to do.
She decides to go to Austria a dream country for her. But it is not easy for her there too. The job she found was cleaning the hospital where a bunch of old people are hospitalized. Some of them are dying in their sleep and there is this one grandfather who are nice to her who is also from Ukrania. She was so sad him dead.
But the life goes on. She had to live. But she keep on living. She work and work.

On the other hand, the night guard, he just keep asking for money from his dad who is a jerk seeking for sex from a bunch of women, really young women- I say about 18 tops. We see explicit nude shots of women who are being asked to do things from this father. The father even asks his son to enjoy together have twosome.
The guy doesn't work or seeking hard to find a job. He is a eay goig kind of a guy who can be comparable to the woman who works so hard, warm hearted who can feel sorry for the old man who dies on the bed in the hospital.

Both of the people are having the same situation. The man is having a hard time because 1. he has no job, 2. he is running away from a bunch of people he own money from.
The woman is also having a hard time not having a decent job but she is keep working hard.
We can see who is right and who is wrong right away.
Life is hard. No one is a winner here. We just have to do our best sometimes.And sometimes we just have to keep going even though some things are against our will, Some things are not what we want to do but we do because we have to earn money out of it.

It is not easy to love the woman or the man in this movie easily becuase the director is not trying hard to make them concentrate to be lovable. It's more like documentary style. There is no such thing as cry or hate or love or anger or anything. We just watch the movie and at the end we decide what the movie is about.

But one thing for sure is the movie was worth watching. It made us feel something after all.
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VINE VOICEon 1 June 2009
The title says it all : people as commodities in the new European landscape of invisible borders. It could have been called East, West as the flow of labour in the film is both from the Ukraine to Vienna and from Vienna to the Ukraine.Seidl's style of directing is bleak semi-documentary. He uses a mix of amateur actors and real people in real locations, some shooting of which may have been ethically dubious: showing a site of real internet porn and the actors performing in a way that is intrusive; secondly, shooting most of the last part of the film in a real geriatric ward in Vienna. A real housing estate in Slovakia is shown.

There are two parallel stories: Olga (Rak) who leaves behind her mother and young child in the Ukraine to seek out a better life in Vienna;and a headstrong young security guard Pauli (Hoffman) who is unemployed and on the run from loan sharks, leaves Vienna to accompany his step-father on a trip delivering gumball machines in Eastern Europe. However his lascivious step-father has other things like the humiliation of young Ukrainian prostitutes( again real) on his mind much to his step-son's disgust. His escape from this relationship is a sign of hope and independence though he is still unemployed. Olga too has to demean herself- abused by internet porn customers,also a young boy at the home in Vienna where she is an au pair; and has to take the inferior job of a cleaner on a geriatric ward when she is a qualified nurse.

Although the scenes on the ward are gruesomely voyeuristic, breach confidentiality, there is dignity and warmth and redemption in her dance with the dying man. Into the real environment of post-Soviet Europe Seidl inserts fictional beings and with the spontaneity of dialogue in his method of shooting the scenes there is a randomness which makes the viewer want to carry on watching. This is uncomfortable viewing done in beautiful tableau-like framed scenes which draw you in. The two leads are non actors whose lives were not far from the roles they played. There is a very real fight between Olga and the nurse which is totally spectacular, which illustrates her fighting spirit. In the last frame in the geriatric Alzheimer's ward there are words uttered by the dying patients like' stink' and `death' (repeatedly) which are worthy of Beckett
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on 21 June 2015
This is a very bleak film. it does not make for easy viewing. It is an exploration in to how young and old people can become so degraded by others because of the circumstances in which they exist. It is a film about vulnerability and exploitation; how people become all the vulnerable in places which are not their homes. What comes across in the film, however, is the strong sense of humanity and warmth which is personalised in the role of Olga (played with great conviction by Ekateryan Rak)) who is a qualified nurse but has to leave Ukraine because she is repeatedly underpaid for the job she has to do. She eventually finds a job as a cleaner in a nursing home, she gives much more to her job than cleaning and here we experience some extremely poignant moments. Olga's role contrasts starkly with that of Pauli (Paul Hoffman) who helps his lecherous step-father export some rather clapped out gaming machines to Eastern Europe. It is on such an excursion we see Pauli's step-father buying the dignity of a young Ukrainian woman; this scene is rather unpleasant and quite long. Is it really necessary? Were all the scenes of sexual exploitation really necessary in this film? The film takes us over the precipice as to what horrible things money can buy. This stands starkly with Olga, who has nothing but her humanity, gives it to the people who need it most. An extremely bleak and challenging film.
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on 6 January 2014
The subject and protagonists of this film have been adequately described in other reviews, so I won't repeat them, suffice it to say that they are the everyday stories of desperate people that we, the fortunate audience, so rarely see. These are subjects that have been covered before - the characters are instantly recognizable and in other hands might have been pointlessly added to the extensive list of exploitative cliches that we have seen so many times before. Instead, the dedication, preparation and execution by Ulrich Seidl provides an insightful, if deeply uncomfortable, portrayal of a depressing alternate reality that we all know exists, but (hopefully) have not experienced. This is a film that mixes professional actors with amateurs, mixes script with improvisation and is filmed entirely in genuine locations - right down to a geriatric ward filled with genuine (dying) patients. This is a film that is the absolute antithesis of Hollywood saccharine, it is grounded in the most painfully and convincingly observed human drama and in doing so makes for frequently difficult watching, but that authenticity is what makes it an entirely worthwhile experience. Rarely can a film truly transport you into a world that is so foreign and ugly; this film takes you into several and is convincing in every one.
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on 7 December 2011
Ulrich Seidl's (the director) stated intention behind this film: to show without embellishment, raw situations stripped naked to the Truth, unadorned, however uncomfortable.

Well there's certainly no comfort in this. Whether in Austria or the Ukraine its the same cold cheerless pitiless reality going on.

The blonde actress playing Ukrainian "Olga" looked more convincing as a don't-wannabe internet porn model than a nurse; and she's too glam-beautiful to be a cleaner.

The Austrian guy "Paulli" fits into a lout though, with "zero charm". He travels from Vienna with his buffoonish step-dad to install bubblegum dispensers on ghetto estates in The Ukraine. That sentence makes the escapade sound comical. Its not.

Zero charm could just about sum this film up. Along with zero story-telling, zero happy.

Both Olga and Paulli's predicament: how to get geld (money) enough for basic survival purposes; 2 life's for import or export, shown in parallel but not linked, so its like watching 2 separate narratives underpinned with the same rock-bottom ugly Truths: Reality is desultory. Life is harsh. To live poor is to be humiliated or exploited. Godforsaken humanity is a suffering stew of deprivation and impoverishment.

And you'll end up in a Geriatric clinic lying next to other demented nutters like you - with a nappy on and no teeth. Crying out in the night to no one, "Tod" (Death), "Tod", "Tod". And then you'll be death itself. Forgotten. Abandoned. Of all hope or redemption.

The little shuffle-dance between Olga and senile old man - is about the only heart-warming moment in the film. But he's dead soon after.

Life in the ugly raw, "without embellishment" - minus enhancement or enrichment. That was Seidl's apparent hopeless purpose for this film. He succeeded.
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on 17 July 2016
I love this movie because it is unlike anything else I have seen before . Yes it is uncomfortable at times yet there is much depth and humanity to it . As the director said it not made to be pretty yet it left me with great satisfaction. There are many layers to this movie. I was especially taken by the scenes in the geriatric hospital which in the timeline of the movie contrasted yet strangely fitted perfectly with the coldness of the sex trade, personalized by the stepdads treatment of a young prostitute in Ukraine . the movie might appear slow but in the end you realize much ground was covered , not only emotional but also physical .
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on 17 December 2015
Not a bit like the present day Hollywood smaltz but a tough depiction of what life can be actually like. It is intelligent and rightly cynical depiction of unfortunates; one from Austria heading East and the other from Ukraine heading West. It is also a sensitive but no holds barred story of people who fell out of the net of their widely disparate societies, each searching relief by heading in diffrerent directions. I've watched it twice and it was on the second occasion that I decided that this was a tremendous film; full of touching sometimes disturbing scenes but ultimately profound statement of the two fine protagonists. Heartily recommend this to be watched with sympathy and patience. It should change you somewhat.
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on 11 May 2012
This film delivers and pulls no punches at all. Ulrich Seidl stamps in his authority as a serious director right off the bat. He fly's you straight into the heart of Austria from your couch and remains hell-bent on submersing you in an intertwined journey through Eastern European life encompassing the necessary accuracy and rawness to achieve this properly for the viewer. Seidl sugarcoats nothing!

Several scenes will leave your imagination ridiculed by a rich plethora of colour contrast and imagery all finely cut together to generate a real sense of place and experience.

Without any faith whatsoever, I only dreamed this would one day be released in HD so you might conceive of my immense joy when I suddenly re-encountered it wrapped in a blue cover. I'll reserve the story/characters for others but for avant garde lovers who value realism or those moved by aesthetics, this is more than a worthwhile purchase you should not be disappointed with.
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VINE VOICEon 14 October 2009
Olga is Ukrainian, she works for little money in the hospital. She works hard at trying new roles, but nothing really gets her interested. Pauli, an Austrian from Vienna is also like Olga, he doesn't like his security job and wants to go away; he's also in debt so needs to flee, his step father Michael involves him in his work, where Olga gets a rather thankless job at the hospital cleaning. This is a depressing cold look at their lives, the new people they meet, and why it seems nearly pointless migrating for work purposes.

This is a very depressing movie about lives where people are working to the bone, and still not getting any satisfaction. The whole thing is filmed in very cold blue tint, and is uncompromising, which does totally mirror the way Hollywood would go about this film. Urich is not trying to glorify, or find something for Pauli and Olga to do, but he wants you to see how little enjoyment these people get in their lives, and why it's a depressing cycle of getting up, going to work and coming home.

All the cast were exceptional, and it must have been a difficult film to put together, as it's so negative and demoralising - but we do get an unembellished view of life in the Eastern Bloc, and it's a far cry from daily life in Western Europe.

This is worth watching, but I wouldn't re-watch it as it was depressing, but it did make me think about how lucky we are and how we are privileged to enjoy a life where we have running water from taps and heating.
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on 29 May 2011
A Ukrainian nurse and an Austrian security officer in their 20s face brutality of life when their career/work stops bringing income. They are forced to move to 'the other side of Europe'. With their adventures we learn to what degree Eastern Europe is deprived and Western Europe privileged.
An alternative film title could read 'What the news will never tell you about how the other half lives'.

Let not the DVD cover deceive you: this is not a film about sex trafficking or every day life of a local brother. This is certainly not a new 'Trainspotting'. This is a bitter view on Europe as we do not know it bombarded by media on one hand and stereotypes on another.

The film showcased lives of ordinary Western and Eastern Europe citizens trapped by circumstances. Both characters are not willing to be life victims but they are not quite able to find their luck.
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