Racial and psychological tensions, claustrophobically observed in both the workplace and at home, come to a head in Visar Morina’s masterfully directed thriller about one man’s identity crisis as a foreigner in Germany.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2020
This film is screening in select cinemas and venues across the country. See here for details.
Are you ready for a virtuosic masterclass in sustained discomfort? From Exile’s opening scene, where chemical engineer Xhafer walks home through his bucolic German suburb only to find a dead rat hanging from his front gate, there’s no escape in this immaculately crafted pressure cooker.
Born in Kosovo, Xhafer (Mišel Matičević, in a compelling, controlled performance) begins to see racism around every corner. But where he finds microaggressions, gaslighting and hatred at every turn, his German wife (Toni Erdmann’s Sandra Hüller) only sees paranoia and honest mistakes. As it becomes clear Xhafer is no innocent himself, the line between real and imagined slights blurs, and his simmering anger slowly rises to a boil.
Director Visar Morina – writing from personal experience as a German immigrant from Kosovo – has gained comparisons to masters of unease like Michael Haneke and Ruben Östlund. But with a canny use of sustained tracking shots and a minimal yet striking score, Morina’s unique voice shines as he builds relentlessly rising tension. It’s an unlikely comparison, but in many ways Exile resembles 2020’s The Invisible Man: it’s what you can’t see that can drive you mad. — Doug Dillaman
About the Filmmaker
Visar Morina was born in Kosovo and studied at the Cologne Academy of Media Arts. His debut Babai (2015) received multiple awards, including Best Director and European Cinema Label in Karlovy Vary and Best Script at Filmfest München. Exile is his second feature.