Shores of Hope is the first feature film from director Toke Constantin Hebbeln. Set in Cold War era eastern Germany, the film follows the story of two young men whose lives are shaped by the paranoia, suspicion and betrayal of the Stasi-monitored country.
Fast friends Cornelius and Andreas, more familiarly known as Conny and Andy, arrive at the port town of Rostock. Young, confident and hopeful, they fully expect to soon be seeing the world as merchant sailors. Much of the lustre of their dreams is gone when three years later finds them still working as dock hands but an opportunity arises when they are approached by the Stasi. The deal is they find out if their foreman is plotting to escape to the west and they will become sailors. This first step marks the beginning of a series of events that sees the two friends pulled apart and brought together.
The film features some fine performances. Much has been made of Alexander Fehling's performance and, with his chiselled Old Hollywood good looks, his portrayal of Conny will likely open many doors. However, August Diehl has the more meaty role as Andy and he makes the most of it. Vain, conflicted and weak, he tranforms from a bright, vigorous man into a lonely, shadowy figure. Ronald Zehrfeld is a big bear of man as the warm, open and fiery foreman.
The film covers many years and places and Hebbeln ably conveys the colour and mood of each. Hebbeln and his co-writer spent several years researching and writing the screenplay and it shows in the film's attempts to expose the intricacy and complexity of the surveillance and spy work of the era. However, a lack of clarity and purpose renders them more as details than dramatic elements. In the end, although the film has touching moments, it does not engage the audience quite as successfully as it promised to.
The Shores of Hope
Principal Cast: August Diehl, Alexander Fehling, Ronald Zehrfeld
Director: Toke Constantin Hebbeln
Sunday, September 16th.
Cinexplex Yonge & Dundas 9, 12:15pm
Written by Pauline Dong
A native Torontonian, Pauline enjoys much that the city has to offer, especially in the areas of food and drink. She is also an enthusiastic traveller and explorer of other cultures. A self-described film geek, her interest in movies was first piqued by the early works of Steven Soderbergh, Quentin Tarantino and Wong Kar-Wai. More a fan than a critic, she invites your thoughts on the films in her articles.