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24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Reza left Belgrade more than 25 years ago to seek a new life in Zurich. Now in her fifties, she has completely detached herself from the past. She owns a cafeteria and maintains an orderly, joyless existence. Mila, a waitress there, is a good-humored Croatian woman who also emigrated decades ago, but, unlike Reza, she dreams of returning to a house on the Croatian coast. Both of them receive a jolt when Ana, a young, itinerant woman who has fled Sarajevo, breezes into the cafeteria looking for work. Reza hires her but is annoyed by Ana's impulsive and spirited efforts to inject life into the cafeteria. Gradually the acrimony will dissipate, as Ana, who hides a tragic secret under her passionate spirit, begins to thaw Reza's chill, and their relationship will change both women in ways they never anticipated.


Most people, upon reading that this is a Swiss film about women rebuilding their lives in Zurich after fleeing the former Yugoslavia, will feel their eyes involuntarily rolling up into their heads.But despite the occasional sluggish passage, Fraulein is an intriguing picture about people struggling in ways that are so personal that they become universal.Ana (Marija Skaricic) is young and pretty, and has fled the Balkans without a plan she lives out of a bus station locker until she gets a job at a cafe. Her boss, Ruza (Mirjana Karanovic), is older and has had more time to adjust to her new life, adopting a hard-as-nails Germanic attitude. Another cafe employee, Mila (Ljubica Jovic), dreams of returning to Croatia where her husband is building a house. It s primarily a character study, and an excellent one. Director Andrea Staka plays the actors like a fine instrument, eliciting anxiety, pain, passion and joy that feel genuine. --Portland Tribune

LOCARNO, Switzerland -- The heartache that accompanies reluctant exile as experienced by three women from the former Yugoslavia underpins Andrea Staka's poignant drama Fraulein which won the Golden Leopard for best film in competition at the Locarno International Film Festival. The film is set in Zurich, where one woman from Belgrade, in what is now Serbia, and another from a seaside town in what is now Croatia have spent about 25 years acclimating to life in Switzerland. Their carefully constructed lives are shaken by the arrival of a vivacious young woman from Sarajevo, in what is now Bosnia, who spurns the older pair's cautious way of life. The clash of viewpoints is explored in touching scenes as the three find their assumptions about survival challenged by a jolting reminder of life's unfairness. Making her feature debut, Swiss-born writer-director Staka, whose parents were Yugoslavian exiles, uses the Zurich locations evocatively, writes in-sightful dialogue and draws naturalistic acting from the principals. The result is a picture that should thrive in Europe and at art houses and suggests a bright future for the filmmaker. The contrasts be-tween the two older women are established quickly with Ruza (Mirjana Karanovic), the stern and disciplined unmarried owner of a charmless but busy diner, and Mila (Ljubica Jovic), a jovial and happily married waitress. Both long exiled, Ruza has put Belgrade behind her and is focused on being totally efficient both in her business and her joyless single life, while Mila dreams of retiring to a house on the Adriatic in Croatia. Into the diner one day comes Ana (Marija Skaricic), who drifts contentedly but proves helpful at the restaurant and is offered a job. Her high spirits and engaging willingness to break the rules, even Ruza's, endear her not only to the others in the place but also to its chilly owner. Ana brings a refreshing indifference to flags and borders, and her ability to enjoy life proves infectious. All three women begin to embrace life more until fate deals another bad hand. The scenes of expatriates torn by nostalgic yearning yet determined to make new lives are well drawn, and the sequences in which Ana helps Ruza shake off her inhibitions also have a keen edge. Skaricic and Jovic show how wisdom and joy are not determined by age. And Karanovic is moving as a woman who has buried both her emotions and any ability to connect with life beyond work until suddenly freed by youthful exuberance. --The Hollywood Reporter

War-torn countries are a popular setting for drama after all war is, perhaps unfortunately, a great dramatic device. But what of the long-term aftermath? What happens to those who flee? Set in Switzerland, this feature debut from Andrea Staka tells the story of three former Yugoslavians not focusing directly on their past but showing, through a complex character study, how that past has shaped their present. Ruza (Mirjana Karanovic) is fiftysomething Serbian, who has filled her life with daily routine. She runs a café and has no time for frivolity, or the past. She is like a piece of piano wire, which you sense could snap with disastrous consequences. One of her staff, Mila (Ljubica Jovic), is Croatian. Anxious and fussy, she dreams of a return to her homeland and frets about the money her husband is spending on their house back in the old country. Into their lives comes Ana (Marija Skaricic). Fresh from Bosnia, she lives out of a railway station locker, living fast at night, so she can bed hop for comfort. A chance encounter sees her get a job at the café, at which point she begins to reshape Ruza and Mila s routine and perception of their lives, as Ana brings a joie de vivre, even as she struggles with her own pain and past. As a character study, this feels as real as a knife cut, slicing to the heart of shattered dreams, long-forgotten hopes and aspirations which may go unfulfilled. Staka gets to the heart of things. Emotion is kept locked in a box, but when it surfaces, the joy is palpable, like a rainbow on a stormy day. Ruza finds passion and compassion, which well up like an oil strike, bursting to the surface in a blaze of glory. Life and relationships are complex Staka shows us just how much. --Amber Wilkinson, Eye for Film

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Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Mirjana Karanovic, Andrea Zogg, Zdenko Jelcic, Marija Skaricic, Pablo Aguilar
  • Directors: Andrea Staka
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: German, Croatian, Serbian
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Film Movement
  • DVD Release Date: November 4, 2008
  • Run Time: 81 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000Y36PYS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #108,694 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Fraulein" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Daniel G. Lebryk TOP 50 REVIEWER on December 10, 2008
Format: DVD
This is far and above the absolute best Film Movements film in the series. I haven't seen or heard a film this well done in a very long time. Buy or rent this film.

The opening scene sets the tone of this film. We see a man pruning trees. The only sound we hear is the sound of his saw cutting the thin young branches. The last sound we hear is the click of a branch breaking off, but don't see that branch break. The scene is very gray, overcast sky, and in the winter. It is a metaphor for the rest of the film.

So many films start with a particular style, something different. It catches your eye or your ears or your mind. About 2/3 to 3/4 of the way through they lose that style and return to the same old melodrama we've all seen before. Not this film. That sound, the sparse clear perfectly recorded sound works throughout this film. The gray skies, the fabulous framing, the perfect editing, those play all the way to the end of Fraulein. There was a unique style all the way to the end of the film.

This is the story of two women. Ana has left Sarejvo after the war. Ruza is the owner of a very gray working man's restaurant (cafeteria would be more like it). The two meet in Ruza's, aptly named simply "Restaurant."

This is a part of Zurich no tourist has ever seen. It overlooks the city we all know along the lake. This is the working area of Zurich. If I were to describe more of this film, it would ruin the discovery process essential to the story line and enjoyment.

I don't want to oversell this film. It's a remarkable small film that was done on a very low budget. It demonstrates that fantastic stories and an amazing film style do not require millions of dollars to film. I was astounded by the clarity of sound, and how it was almost another character.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Helena on November 1, 2007
Format: DVD
If you truly want to experience films that accurately depict other cultures, then you should start getting some Film Movements movies. These are independent movies that describe dysfunctions from around the world with very fine sensibilities. This film shows us two women whose lives cross paths. One is Serbian woman, Ruza (Rose) who immigrated to Western Europe 25 years ago while the other is 22 year old Bosnian girl Ana who has recently left war torn Sarajevo. Ana is damaged by years of war, her brother's suicide and her own restlessness. We never really learn her true motives for leaving Sarajevo. Ruza on the other hand has been living a quiet life, somewhat boring and predictable. She has lover who she hides from the general public because she knows deeply that he is not a right person for her. But she is so busy working in her restaurant that the life outside of that world really no longer exist for her. Ana on the other hand is homeless. She finds a place to sleep and take shower after her nightly escapades to a disco club. There, she is picked up by men she never met before and she follows them to their apartments where she has sex with them, but also clens up, eats a little and finds enough strength for another day. Although very dfferent in their age and temperament, these two women deeply influence each other's life. I have enjoyed seevral moments in the film. One is where elderly (Croatian) coupel is watching a TV show and husband makes a very dumb guess on the quiz question if for no other reason than for the reason that saying nothing seems stupid to him. The other gives you a sense for proportion. Same woman's husband steals her cash stash from her cash hiding place. She has been saving that money for a new coat for herself.Read more ›
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By zhabazon TOP 1000 REVIEWER on February 24, 2009
Format: DVD
Mirjana Karanovic gives a stellar performance in "Das Fraulein." Actually every actor is superb and although this story leaves much to the imagination, as a lover of simplicity, I adore this character driven film. Every frame is intentional, each action is necessary, there is not a thing wasted in this low budget production which surpasses many films that cost ten times its budget. The audio effects were expertly done, including even the background movement of cars in a parking lot. From a production standpoint, this was a ten. In less than an hour and a half, we learned how humans share their lives with only a few words spoken relying on their gestures and actions to propel the story. Where Woody Allen's characters erupt in verbose thoughts, these characters internalize, reminiscent of New Wave films. As an example, rather than carry on about a woman watching her life go down the drain, we see her watch the sudsy water flow from the sink. What could be a morose story becomes uplifting and I'm going to watch this again.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Paul4Liberty on February 1, 2009
Format: DVD
The movie 'Fraulein' put the tears in my eyes. I gave 5 stars because of the fact that this story can touch and move many immigrants and souls who immigrated to work hard for the better living including my self (Serbian immigrant to the uSA for some time now)...It is interesting that you can conclude after watching this film, that we all are unique souls with different needs and our time for all of us, is running out... for some sooner then for others ...Some have money but the best times of their life went by so fast. Their youth and happiness are gone and some have youth and happiness but no money or health to keep on going as the rest of them ...If you speak German and or Serbian/Croatian Languages you can understand with out the English subtitles (because mine did not work on my DVD player). This movie can touch any soul who can feel the nature of the hard working people, humble but with the basic needs. 'Fraulein' - also has nice group of the talented actors who , with their performance, could make you understand the message of the story and the human life with out any translations (my boyfriend is American and was able to enjoy this wonderful movie even with out subtitles). Nice move for anyone to see and for the better understanding of the average hard working people and the blue color workers and immigrants of the three generations. Thank you. M.
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