Christian Alvart’s Antibodies (German title Antikorper) is a film full of potential, containing stunning camera work but destroys itself with the weight of its over-laden and super-obvious imagery.
Serial Killer Gabriel Engel (Andre Hennicke) is captured and incarcerated. He refuses time and time again to say anything of meaning to any of the police or mental health professionals. Meanwhile in a provincial part of Germany, a part-time policeman and full time Catholic, Michael Martens (Wotan Wilke Mohring), is obsessed with the murder of a young girl. Once he learns of Engel’s capture, he makes contact with the police in Berlin. Martens is the only person Engel will talk to. The girl’s murder is significantly different from Engel’s M.O. since his victims are all young boys. Still, Engel’s DNA and another person’s DNA are on the slain girl’s panties. I could say more but this is enough of a summary and potential tease.
The camera work is top notch. Imagine an impressive music video, now slow down the camera work so that it goes from frenetic to something more controlled. Mr. Alvart’s talent shows here in a brilliant way. The problem is this effort is all but totally undone by the overwhelming simplistic nature of the imagery.
A Shakespeare professor who also taught a creative writing course, called the type of imagery that is obvious enough that a child could untie it “the lead pipe school.” Antibodies goes well past a lead pipe and moves to lead bullets.
Crosses abound. A pick is a cross, while repairing a roof Martens leaves an open set of shingles making it a cross, the target through a rifle sight is—you guessed it, a cross. And let’s not forget that Engel is the German word for Angel. Mr. Alvart isn’t beyond the ironic use of these religious symbols, but it only serves to show how stuck the movie is rather than clever. The other names, even of minor characters, also have religious (mainly but not exclusively Catholic) meanings; I do intend it when I say meanings and not analogs.
The imagery is the film’s cardinal sin. The acting is the film’s venal sin. Everyone stands out as being less than. They are all less than effective at playing someone believable. In effect, what Mr. Alvert has created is a farce. There is one good thing about it, but everything else, everything else, is childish. Here is the question that requires answering before determining whether to see this film: is camera work so interesting to you that the plot and acting mean nothing? If the answer is yes, the film will not disappoint. If the answer is no, then I expect you will be very disappointed when the credits roll.
What did you think of this review?