‘The Weather Inside’: Film Review

A public relations expert working for an international aid organization succumbs to the lures of drugs and sex in Isabelle Stever’s German drama.

The central character of German filmmaker Isabelle Stever’s latest work, The Weather Inside, is a female public relations adviser for an international aids organization working in an unspecified, war-torn Arab country. Ensconced in an opulent suite at a luxury hotel, the beautiful Dorothea (Maria Furtwangler) operates in a bubble far removed from what’s just outside her doors. Busy hosting gala parties and wooing rich donors and international ambassadors, she’s not even ruffled by the loud shelling that sometimes breaks her windows.

She’s also a hedonist, enjoying the beautiful clothes and glamorous grooming required by her vocation and consuming copious amounts of alcohol that numb her from its darker underside. While drunk at one of her parties she meets the handsome Alec (Mehmet Sozer) and quickly takes him to bed. The next morning, hungover and with little memory of what transpired the night before, she’s relieved to find out that he at least speaks German. Nonetheless, she asks him to leave.

The Bottom Line

Maria Furtwangler delivers a star-making performance in this intriguing if sometimes predictable drama.

But they meet again, and the relationship begins in earnest when she invites the younger man of little apparent means to share her suite and outfits him in expensive new clothing as well.  The lure of torrid sex and recreational drugs take their toll on her ability to function, and her finances are strained by having to pay the hotel for the extensive damages caused by, as its manager delicately puts it, her “nighttime soirees.”

Dorothea also gets into trouble at work, when a refugee girl she had personally selected for a valuable student scholarship suddenly disappears at the Paris airport. And when her new supervisor (Anne von Keller) makes an unexpected appearance, she makes it clear that Dorothea has been falling down on the job and is on her way out.

For all the exoticism of its milieu and the provocativeness of its storyline, The Weather Inside, which recently served as the opening-night attraction of KINO! 2016, never really lives up to its potential. It might have been effective as the sort of black comedy it hints at in such scenes as Dorothea’s encounter with the British ambassador (Jim Broadbent, in a terrific cameo) who, upon being solicited for funds, casually mentions that his son is starting a business in the area.

Dorothea quickly takes the hint. “If I can help?” she offers.

But the film instead settles into being a familiar portrait of a self-destructive, addictive personality, albeit a highly intriguing one thanks to Furtwangler’s compelling and complex performance. Playing a very intelligent woman doing very dumb things, the actress manages to make you care about her character even when your chief impulse is to throw up your hands.  

Venue: KINO! 2016
Production: Sutor Kolonko, cine plus Filmproduktion, Ja.ja.de. Filmproduktion, WDR, BR, NDR
Cast: Maria Furtwangler, Mehmet Sozer, Anne von Keller, Dorka Gryllus, Christoph Rath
Director-screenwriter: Isabelle Stever
Producers: Ingmar Trost, Sutor Kolonko
Director of photography: Philip Kaminiak
Production designer: Alexander Scherer
Editors: Oliver Neumann, Isabelle Stever
Costume designer: Ute Paffendorf
Composer: Yoyo Rohm

Not rated, 100 minutes