Cast: Franz Rogowski, Sandra Huller, Peter Kuth, Henning Parker
Director: Thomas Stuber
Who knew life as a retail worker could be so complicated. It seemed pretty mundane when I was one in American, but apparently in Germany their lives are much more complex than the people I worked with. With that in mind, In the Aisles takes this simple premise and humanizes its characters in a way that very few movies can do. Taking an in-depth view of the life of the average worker trying to reform themselves, In the Aisles is sensitive, compelling, and shows an angle of life that all of us have gone through in an environment that is relevant and relatable.
The film follows Christian (Rogowski), a young man looking to get a job at a large retail store to get out of his life as a street criminal. During his time training for the role he starts to develop a bond with his mentor Bruno (Kurth) and romantic feelings for his married co-worker Marion (Huller). Over the course of 125 minutes, we see Christian try his best to overcome his past while also learning more about the world around him as he experiences perspectives that he’s never seen before. When you break down In the Aisles, it’s a pretty easy movie to understand. Describing a man’s journey in retail and the struggles he’s going through as he begins to develop himself is a fairly simple task for a director, but the level of detail and intimacy that we feel watching In the Aisles shows what a spectacular job Stuber did with this script and how it can relate to audiences everywhere. You don’t have to work a day of retail in your life understand the struggle that Christian is going through and it’s a credit to Stuber for creating that feeling. While the retail setting may initially serve as a portion of the plot, it’s really used more as a catalyst to set events in motion which is very impressive based on the circumstances surrounding the movie. Some people may not like having to read subtitles to understand exactly what is going on, but In the Aisles manages to convey its points in a way where the subtitles are almost optional to fully realize the gravity of the situation. There’s something innately human about wanting to move forward and put your mistakes behind you and Stuber clearly understands that regardless of this movie’s language. Between In the Aisles and Never Look Away, this has been a fantastic year for German films and anyone who lets the non-English get in the way of watching this movie is truly missing out. I don’t know what else Stuber has worked on or plans to do after this, but I hope he continues to work at the same scope as In the Aisles and shows international audiences just how talented he really is. I now know why this movie was so well-received at the Berlin International Film Festival and this is hopefully the kickstart to a more prosperous career for Stuber and the rest of his cast.
Overall, In the Aisles showcases a side of humanity that at one point or another we’ve all probably felt, but that we’ve probably never seen in this particular environment. You don’t need to be a former criminal undergoing a moment of clarity to understand the value of growing up and moving on, and In the Aisles shows us just how one person managed to do that for themselves. For those on the fence about watching a 125 minute foreign language movie, you won’t regret this decision as it will more than likely be one of the best ones to pick from this year.
Overall Score: 8/10