Schossgebete, Sönke Wortmann, Review


In 2013 German author Charlotte Roche’s novel Feuchtegebiete was adapted for the screen. A year later her second work Schossgebete followed. Both novels concentrate on sexuality, but while her first work aimed at provoking its audience, her second book and also its adaptation take a different look on sex. Protagonist Elizabeth Kiel uses sex as trauma therapy. „I can only forget all my problems while I’m having sex,“ she states quite at the beginning.

Nine years ago, her mother and her three siblings have a car accident on the way to Elizabeth’s wedding. Her siblings die; her mother suffers from serious injuries. This accident destroys Elizabeth’s relationship and leaves behind a neurotic woman who is obsessed with her own death. Now, nine years later, she has a loving family, but Elizabeth is not able live a single day without thinking about how she could die. She changes her legacy again and again to ensure the well-being of the people she would leave behind. With her psychologist she talks about her trauma, as well as her sex-life. Sex as a means to forget and to feel alive at the same time has also become an obsession to her and so Elizabeth tries everything to keep her sex-life interesting. Screenwriter Oliver Berben and director Sönke Wortmann do not concentrate on the sex scenes. In fact, they display ordinary sex. More arousing are the scenes presenting Elizabeth’s daydreams about her own death and the accident: her house caving in or the arms of her mother burning in the fire of her car. Visions of revenge also haunt Elizabeth. She repeatedly thinks about killing the journalists who intruded into her private life right after the accident at a time when she would have needed rest.

Elizabeth is a sympathetic and pathetic character at the same time. Her thoughts and her, so to speak, philosophy of sex and sexes present an emancipated young woman. Some of her ideas and actions deliver some comic relief and lighten the mood. The acting performances are very convincing, especially Lavinia Wilson, who embodies Elizabeth, perfectly walks the line between neurotic and normal. For Jürgen Vogel, who plays Elizabeth’s husband, the role might have been undemanding, but he fits into the role of the calm and confident husband.

Schossgebete is a calm movie without any emotional explosion or climax and so the ending comes somewhat unexpectedly. One cannot ignore the feeling that something is missing.