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3.6 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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(Mar 17, 2009)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Narrowly escaping her volatile ex-husband, Yella flees her small hometown in former East Germany for a new life in the West. She finds a promising job with Philipp, a handsome business executive with whom an unlikely romance soon blossoms. But just as Yella seems poised to realize her dreams, she finds herself haunted by buried truths that threaten to destroy her newfound happiness. Christian Petzold's YELLA is a stylish and deliciously suspenseful mystery.

Special Features:
- Nothing Ventured: 50-minute documentary by acclaimed filmmaker Harun Farocki, an inspiration for Yella
- Theatrical Trailer
- Optional English subtitles
- Essay by Film Scholar Marco Abel
- Scene Selections
- Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack



July 31, 2008

By Roger Ebert

Yella is a reserved young woman with unrevealed depths of intelligence, larceny and passion. Their gradual revelation makes this more than an ordinary thriller, in great part because of the performance of Nina Hoss in the title role. Soon after we meet her, she's followed down the street by her former husband, Ben, who will stalk her throughout the film. Partly to escape him, she leaves her town in the former East Germany and goes to Hanover to take a job.

Her mistake is to accept a ride to the train station from him. He declares his love, accuses her of betrayal, moans about his business losses. "What time is your train?" he asks. When she says "8:22," he knows her destination. Shortly afterward, he drives his SUV off a bridge and into a river. Miraculously, they escape. Soaking wet, she runs to the train station and catches the 8:22. Yella has pluck.

That the man who hired her in Hanover has been fired and locked out of his office is the first of her discoveries about the world of business. That night in her hotel lobby, she meets Philipp (Devid Striesow), who sees her looking at his laptop and asks, "You like spreadsheets?" She does. She trained as an accountant.

He asks her to go along with him to a business meeting, carefully coaching her about when to gaze at the spreadsheet, when to gaze at the would-be client, and when to lean over and whisper in his ear -- a lawyer's strategy he learned from Grisham movies. She does more than that. She actually reads the spreadsheet, and boldly points out deceptions and false assets. She controls the meeting.

Philipp, who now respects her, brings her along to more meetings, during which she figures out for herself what he eventually confesses to her: "I cheat." She doesn't mind. Then the film enters more deeply into one particular deal involving shaky patent rights and potential fortunes. Her career seems on an upswing, if it were not that Ben (Hinnerk Schoenemann) has followed her to Hamburg.

All of this time, there are eerie episodes when her ears ring, she hears the harsh cry of a bird, and she seems able to intuitively understand things about people. These episodes remain unexplained until the last minute of the film. And just as well. Hoss is an actress who rewards close observation; she is often seen in profile as a passenger in Philipp's car, her eyes observing him carefully, her expression neutral, then sometimes smiling at what he says and sometimes only to herself. One of the pleasures of the film is trying to read her mind.

The writer-director, Christian Petzold, uses a spare, straightforward visual style for the most part, except for those cutaways to trees blowing in the wind whenever we heard the harsh bird cry. He trusts his story and characters. And he trusts us to follow the business deals and become engrossed in the intrigue. I did. I could see this being remade as one of those business thrillers with Michael Douglas looking cruel and expensive and finding his female equal. I'm not recommending that, just imagining it. --Roger Ebert, Chicago-Sun Times


After the disappointing sidetrack of "Ghosts," German writer-director Christian Petzold returns to top form in "Yella," another precision-helmed, tightly wound, metaphysical thriller that confirms him as one of Germany's finest middle-generation directors. Topped by a mesmerizing perf from Petzold favorite Nina Hoss ("Wolfsburg," "Something to Remind Me") as a young businesswoman unwrapping her inner demons and ambitions, pic could click on the fest and arthouse circuits in the same way as Petzold's earlier "The State I Am In" (2001), with critical support.

On screen virtually the whole time, Yella Fichte (Hoss) is first seen arriving by train in her home town of Wittenberge, northwest of Berlin and on the banks of the River Elbe. In the street she's accosted by -- and gives short shrift to -- a guy who turns out to be her ex-husband, Ben (Hinnerk Schoenemann).

After spending some time with her dad (Christian Redl) and telling him she's landed a promising accounting job in Hanover, Yella reluctantly agrees to let Ben, whom she claims is stalking her, drive her to the airport. En route, he suddenly rails against her for dumping him when his business started to hit the skids. In a gripping sequence that quickly ramps up the emotional tension between the pair, he drives the car off a bridge and into the river, where it slowly sinks.

Just when it looks as if the main story is going to be told in flashback -- especially as we've learned little about the main characters so far -- Yella is, surprisingly, seen swimming to the shore, later joined by Ben, who collapses unconscious. She grabs her stuff, hops a train and wakes up in Hanover.

There's an off-center quality to the succeeding reels as Yella bounces from one strange event to another. First, her boss (Michael Wittenborn) turns out to have just been fired and makes a vague sexual approach to her which she abruptly rejects. She then bumps into Philipp (Devid Striesow), a roving venture capitalist she'd earlier met who asks her to accompany him to a meeting and briefs her on the secret body language he'll strategically use.

From Yella's initial encounter with him, we know that Philipp is emotionally volatile beneath his coldly calculating business front. As the two form a temporary partnership that gradually warms into something else, Yella discovers that she, too, has a considerable appetite for the ruthless cut-and-thrust of modern business.

Petzold's best pics have always had an unsettling emotional undercurrent beneath their clean, clinical direction. "Yella," with its painterly interludes in which the rural summertime scenery takes on a threatening edge, is strongly in this line. Main character remains something of an enigma, but Hoss, dressed throughout in a eye-catching red blouse that cuts like an open wound through the black-and-grey business world in which she operates, brings a laser-like focus to the role that holds the attention. --Variety

Special Features


Product details

  • Actors: Nina Hoss, Devid Striesow, Hinnerk Schönemann, Burghart Klaußner, Barbara Auer
  • Directors: Christian Petzold
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: New Yorker Video
  • DVD Release Date: March 17, 2009
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001JL43OI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #607,177 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?

  • Learn more about "Yella" on IMDb

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