MY BROTHER’S NAME IS ROBERT AND HE IS AN IDIOT
The themes that interested Philip Gröning in his early films are fully developed in his latest work. The rebellious yearning for freedom that motivated the three protagonists of DIE TERRORISTEN!, without them having thought it through, is in the soul of young twins Elena and Robert. In an idyllic field next to a gas station, they contemplate — as is typical of Gröning — time. In two days, Elena will have her final high-school oral exam in philosophy, focusing on the philosophy of time, which is why she must grapple with such thinkers as St. Augustine and Heidegger. Her brother Robert helps her to study, using books that they've strewn around them on the field. Robert dives into the reading material and enjoys pondering the philosophical questions, but Elena has a more pragmatic approach. She is also distracted by jealousy, because Robert has slept with one of her classmates. She bets him that she will sleep with a man before her final exam, which leads to scenes of seduction around the gas station and, in the final third of the movie, a violent escalation of events. The time that Elena and Robert had attempted to stop while they were philosophizing — for they will be separated after the final exam — significantly picks up speed. Gröning's film had its world premiere at the Berlinale in 2018, where it was received with some criticism and a lot of enthusiasm.
Meet the director
Philip Gröning was born in 1959 in Düsseldorf. He started his own production company while he was still studying at the University of Television & Film Munich in 1986, and since then has been responsible on all his films for production, directing, screenplay, editing and parts of the cinematography. Gröning first attracted attention in 1992 with his film DIE TERRORISTEN! (THE TERRORISTS), the TV broadcast of which the then German Chancellor Helmut Kohl unsuccessfully tried to prevent. The film won the Bronze Leopard in Locarno and ran at the Sundance International Film Festival. Gröning gained international recognition in 2000 for his film L’AMOUR, L’ARGENT, L’AMOUR, which won the Leopard in Locarno for lead actress Sabine Timoteo. His greatest success both in Germany and internationally came in 2005 with DIE GROSSE STILLE (INTO GREAT SILENCE), a 162-minute artistic documentary film that was a surprise worldwide audience success and among others won the Special Jury Prize in Sundance, the European Film Award, the Bavarian Film Award and German Film Critics' Association Award as well a nomination for a German Film Award. Gröning was Jury President for the section Orrizonti at the Venice Film Festival in 2006, as well as Member of the Jury at the Munich Filmfest in 2009. He is a member of the European Film Academy and the German Film Academy as well as the Bavarian Academy for the Fine Arts. Among his works there is also: SOMMER (SUMMER, 1986), STACHOVIAK! (1988), OPFER. ZEUGEN (VICTIMS. WITNESSES, 1993), and DIE FRAU DES POLIZISTEN (THE POLICE OFFICER’S WIFE, 2013).