Austria, France, Germany
German, Slovak, Russian, English
2007 Cannes Film Festival – Palme d’Or (Nominated)
2007 Yerevan International Film Festiva (Yerevan, Armenia) – Grand Prix – Golden Apricot: Best Film
Import/Export is a relentlessly bleak examination of two young people who can’t find their place in the world in which they live, so they export themselves.
Olga (Ekateryna Rak) is a beautiful young woman living in poverty in Ukraine. She’s a nurse but her hospital is unable to pay her full salary and she lives in a one room apartment with her baby and her mother. The movie’s depiction of their living conditions is striking. They actually have to carry in water to bathe themselves. After trying some other schemes to make extra money, including becoming a “model” for an internet porn site, Olga decides to go to Vienna, Austria for work. The film follows her as she works as a maid and cleans at a geriatric hospital where she is looked down on by one of the nurses.
Import/Export also follows the story of Paul (Paul Hofmann), who lives in Vienna. He trains as a security guard but fails (humiliatingly) in his first job. He then has to work with his amazingly obnoxious stepdad servicing vending machines. This job takes him into Ukraine.
As you watch the two stories unfold, you’re wondering when they will connect. I won’t spoil anything except to say that in this movie absolutely nothing went the way I expected. It surprised me at every turn. That’s one of the strengths of the movie, along with the performances. The characters all seemed very real.
One thing that I found difficult as Mr. English only Amurican: It was hard to know when characters were speaking different languages. Both stories deal with language barriers, in one case Olga is frustrated with one of her employers in Austria and apparently stops speaking German and falls back to her native language. The employer insultingly says to her, “Stop talking stupid!” I don’t know what the solution would be, maybe identifying the subtitles with what the language is, but that might be too distracting.
While I’m on the subject of subtitles, somebody made the choice to not subtitle all the dialogue. It didn’t really subtract from the story much, but I missed understanding what they said.
These are minor quibbles, though. The movie is well made and moving, but did I mention that it’s bleak? Be warned, like the old theme park sign used to say, this is a dark ride. Also, some of the scenes – especially when Olga is on the porn site – are quite graphic and sometimes hard to watch.
The Misplaced Boy MST3K Scale:
So, what I’m saying is Import/Export isn’t the feel good hit of the year.
Random Quote Whore Quote:
Import/Export is a noted, lengthwise, beryllium of a movie! Ekateryna Rak is paramagnetic!!!
A MISPLACED BOY WILL RETURN