Anna (Sofia Roiz) is a middle-aged actress who has not received decent offers from filmmakers for a long time. In the end, the woman decides to accept a part-time job: to give lessons in public speaking. The young guy Adrian (Milan Herms) appears in the life of the artist not for the first time – before the start of classes, the heroes collided on the street when the young man snatched the handbag from Anna’s hands. Attempts to achieve the correct diction give rise to unexpected passion. And now the heroes, despite the age and prejudices of society, lose their heads from falling in love.
At first glance, A Quick Dictionary of Love is a slow-paced melodrama that reflects on the big age difference. He is a teenager, she is an adult woman, but the characters hardly reflect on the numbers in the passport. Only once Anna will exclaim that he has found his own age, and Adrian, in turn, will give arguments that maturity is not calculated by the number of years lived. But Nicolette Krebitz’s film is not a new version of Fear Eats the Soul, although the director was obviously influenced by the handwriting of Rainer Werner Fassbinder. The central link in the picture is not so much the union of two completely different bystanders as the figure of Anna – a completely lonely woman, a forgotten actress, an unfortunate widow.
It would be an understatement to say that the heroine is going through a difficult period of her life. And although Krebitz doesn’t say it directly, melancholy and notes of depression are scattered throughout the plot. Journalists are not averse to hinting to Anna about her age – patriarchal attitudes are pressing day by day, and the cult of youth leaves a talented star out of work. Meryl Streep once said that as soon as she crossed the forty-year milestone, offers to play old witches rained down on her. The extent to which ageism and sexism go hand in hand is best demonstrated by the cinema: young talents are always in fashion, while middle-aged women gradually fade into the background and are content with secondary roles (of course, there are always happy exceptions!).
Anna is one of the victims of social prejudice, who was too quickly dismissed. Adrian becomes a lifeline, helping to make the long-awaited leap to freedom. More than once while watching, the question arises: does the young thief really exist or is it all a figment of the imagination of a bored lady? Perhaps it is no coincidence that the heroine’s neighbor notices that she came up with a fatal meeting with the theft, and Anna’s voice-over leads the viewer through a tangled story of (im)possible love. However, it is not so important whether Adrian is real: he can be a metaphor for liberation from stereotypes, an escape from unpleasant reality, true love, and all at the same time. Any interpretation fits into the narrative tone.
Whether an escapist journey or a sketch of a novel that challenges everything and everything, A Quick Dictionary of Love is a movie that needs to find the right mood. Its theatricality, protractedness (this is not about timing, but about the impossibility of luring the viewer) and a certain artificiality of what is happening are repulsive. But if you are ready for a slightly soporific viewing and are tired of banal love stories, then the news from the Berlinale may pleasantly surprise you.