One of the few romance/comedy-dramas where I could empathise with the protagonist, Separation City delivers an interesting and surprisingly realistic view on love, romance and life in general. That's not to say that I haven't heard it all before, however it was delivered in a frank yet not "in your face" manner, making this movie stand out from dozens of other films on this subject. Having said that, the movie really suffers from lazy directing. It also doesn't help that being a New Zealand movie they had to cast at least one New Zealand lead, and with all due respect to Danielle Cormack, she was out of her depth here, particularly when surrounded by the ever brilliant Thomas Kretschmann, as well as Rhona Mitra and Joel Edgerton. The scene at the beach towards the end of the film really exposes her weakness as an actress, although part of the blame lies with the surprisingly weak dialogue in that scene, which was not characteristic of this movie, I must add.
3 comments about this movie can help me illustrate my frustration with it:
1) The narration. Overly elaborate, at pains to explain every little nuance, every feeling, it felt as if the director didn't trust the actors to deliver the message through their acting. I wonder if they ever tried screening it without the narration just to see if the movie holds up on its own, because I'd bet it would.
2) Lazy directing. (here be spoilers). An example of this is Klaus painting a pohutakawa tree back in his apartment in Berlin, with Katrien's voice-over telling us that he is painting landscapes of the distant shores. Wouldn't it be better to embed a flourishing pohutakawa somewhere in the movie so that once back in Berlin and painting it, the viewer would recognise it and understand Klaus is painting a New Zealand landscape? (spoilers END)
3) Why was Mike Minogue (Errol the Fireman) in this film and what did his character contribute is beyond me.
Overall not a bad effort, I definitely agree with the message it conveys, but I do hope they release a director's cut version with no narration or at least significantly reduce the amount of it.