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The Edukators (15)

Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: None stated as yet

FROM its opening scene - featuring the aftermath of a burglary in which the culprits have simply re-arranged the furniture and ornaments of the rich owners - you can tell that The Edukators is going to be a hip, intelligent affair.

And so it proves, as Hans Weingartner's darkly comic potboiler sets about examining the social constraints of an affluent society as seen through the eyes of the young political activists trying to change it.

That it also functions as a compelling love triangle only makes the film more noteworthy, providing characters that could have become too pretentious (from spouting their ideals) with a heartbeat that makes them appear more human.

The film centres around Jan (Daniel Brühl), Peter (Stipe Erceg) and Jule (Julia Jentsch) as they struggle to make ends meet while living out their rebellious youth.

Jule, especially, is caught in a downward spiral of debt caused by a car accident for which she was to blame.

What she doesn't realise, though, is that her boyfriend, Peter, and his best friend, Jan, are 'The Edukators', mysterious perpetrators who creatively and non-violently warn the local yacht club members that their 'days of plenty are numbered'.

When Peter is away, however, Jan and Jule find themselves hopelessly attracted to each other, so much so that when Jan reveals he is an Edukator, Jule convinces him to break into the home of the man she owes money to in order to extract her own revenge.

Things go wrong, of course, forcing Jan and Jule to return to the house a second time, only to be discovered by the owner, Hardenberg (Burghart Klaussner).

In the ensuing confusion, they call Peter for help and subsequently make the rash decision to kidnap Hardenberg and take him to a remote mountain hideaway, where they must decide how to resolve their predicament while realising the extent of their changing feelings towards each other.

Weingartner's movie, while a little drawn out in places, proves a consistently enjoyable affair that throws in plenty of surprises along the way to its slightly ambiguous finale.

Idealists should have a blast considering the numerous social arguments it raises, while there is just as much fun to be had in watching the developing relationships between all four of the central protagonists.

Brühl, especially, builds on the good work he did in Goodybe Lenin! to deliver a charismatic turn as Jan, an angry young man whose growing impetuousness gives rise to later self-doubt caused by his reckless affair with Jule.

While Klaussner is equally compelling as the 'victim' of the piece, a former young revolutionary who has since been corrupted by the system he has so loyally come to serve.

It is the resolution of his story arc, in particular, that creates the film's ambiguity but by opting to keep things optimstic Weingartner avoids undermining too much of his earlier good work.

Such a positive outlook also helps to ensure that The Edukators functions as a thought-provoking character drama that isn't prepared to sacrifice its sense of fun.

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