Corinna Harfouch is unforgettable as a mother reaching out, in her own severe way, to her classical pianist son and her own erstwhile artistic ambitions, in director Jan-Ole Gerster’s high-tensile drama.
A lacerating character study of a contentious woman, Lara is a thoroughly compelling drama that spans a day in its eponymous heroine’s life. It’s not just any day: Lara is turning 60, although this gives her little reason to celebrate. More importantly, that evening her son Victor, a virtuoso pianist, will perform an original composition for the first time. However, Lara isn’t invited and Victor has been ignoring her calls – for weeks. But on Victor’s big night, Lara shall not be shunned.
Lara’s complex and unnerving personality is revealed through her interactions with former work colleagues, a cab driver neighbour, her ex-husband, her mother and her own piano teacher, among others, each encounter adding a brushstroke to the portrait. The picture, while not pretty, is engrossing: monstrous castrating mother, envious of and undermining her son’s talents which she spent years moulding; an embittered woman riddled with thwarted ambition; a manipulative boss who once filled her underlings with fear, possibly just because she could. Corinna Harfouch’s nuanced performance makes Lara entirely believable and in less accomplished directorial hands, this tale could have swerved into farce or melodrama. Lara has her reasons, and although not necessarily defensible, she completely fascinates. — Sandra Reid
About the Filmmaker
Jan-Ole Gerster is a German director based in Berlin. His debut feature, Oh Boy (NZIFF12), starring Tom Schilling, was a surprise hit on the international festival circuit. Lara is his second feature film.