Criterion Prediction #235: Supermarkt, by Alexander Miller
Director: Roland Klick
Cast: Charly Wierczejewski, Eva Mattes, Michael Degen, Hans-Michael Rehberg
Synopsis: Living on the streets as a delinquent loner, Wili (Wierzejewski), a wayward eighteen-year-old, is torn between a positive mentor and a life of crime while courting the affections of a young lady named Monika (Mattes). However, Willi becomes ensnared in a downward spiral where time is running out, and the figurative noose around his neck tightens.
Critique: Stylistically, Klick is a filmmaker capable of gritty intensity with a tendency for spontaneous bursts of violent action, whether it be an escalating argument or someone getting cut down by machine gunfire. Supermarkt relies on a few tropes popularized in the annals of crime cinema, film noir, heist flicks, gangster movies and the distinct influence of the youth-gone-wild subgenre. Klick borrows from the stock of crime cinema elite and does so without permission, making Supermarkt a jagged riff of buzzing anticipation. The aesthetic twang channels through every aspect of the movie, from the forceful direction to the rough-hewn performances, even the sporadic character turns, and the story retains the electricity pulsing throughout. However, this approach doesn’t come without some structural fallout. The propulsive pace of the film brings with it some narrative jags, the significance of some characters swivel, and shift, sometimes it’s to suit the plot, but on the other hand, people seem to vanish or clumsily reappear. The same can be said for Klick’s White Star, where similar criticisms are applicable, but his direction is dedicated if not satisfactorily coherent. All that aside, Supermarkt culminates in a rewarding fashion with some exciting performances from its low-key lead Wierczejewski and Mattes, a luminary from the Herzog/Fassbinder stock company who seems entirely at home in this gritty Hamburg-set neo-noir.
Why It Belongs in the Collection: While the German New Wave is often associated with Fassbinder, Herzog, Schlöndorff, and Syberg, there’s also Klick, an underseen auteur whose chops deserve an elevated profile among cinephiles. Furthermore, a duo of Klick’s films have been restored; Supermarket and the Dennis Hopper led White Star have been making their rounds (discovered by yours truly via MUBI). Usually, this coincides with an upcoming Blu-ray release. Let’s hope Criterion is the one to share this overlooked talent with a new generation of admirers.