24
Feb
2020
Exil / Exile

Exil / Exile

Originally from Kosovo but now living in Southern Germany,  pharmaceutical engineer Xhafer (Mišel Matičević) feels discriminated against at work. From simply being ignored to finding dead rats hanging from his garden gate, Xhafer starts to suspect everyone around him. Is the persecution real or is it all inside his head?

...a fantastic film which ratchets up the tension by giving its lead character fewer and fewer places to turn.

Writer/director Visar Morina’s Lola in Gold Award-winning screenplay ‘Exil’ is superb from its very first minutes. Building up and layers and layers indifference to plain obstinacy from his German colleagues, it quickly becomes obvious that Xafer is being thwarted at every turn. Couple this with his German wife (the excellent Sandra Hüller) venturing that maybe he’s just not likeable and then you know Xafer is a character ready to explode.

Drenched in a palpably clammy sweat, actor Mišel Matičević delivers an arresting performance of a man trying to keep it together. Always rebuffed by the oh-so-sensitively-put argument that every problem is potentially his, ‘Exil’ is a fantastic film which ratchets up the tension by giving its lead character fewer and fewer places to turn. 

That said, whilst Visar Morina’s story is a superb go-to text about passive aggression in the workplace and the fall-out it can cause, it is also a thriller that, somewhat typically for this year’s Berlinale, doesn’t know when to stop. In concluding its main theme of unhelpful work colleagues using veiled racism against a perceived outsider, ‘Exil’ unnecessarily ties up its subplots when the main, heart-stopping punch has already been landed. 

That said, whilst its excellent paranoid theme is unnecessarily stretched at the end, the build-up, performances and prickling atmosphere of ‘Exil’ makes for an absorbing thriller with a poisoned sense of politeness at its heart. 

Consider ‘Exil’ as a definite candidate for advancement.