Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Stefan Ruzowitzky
Stars: Franka Potente, Benno Furmann, Anna Loos, Holger Speckhahn, Sebastian Blomberg, Traugott Buhre, Rudiger Vogler.
It’s always something of a worry when a film’s marketing strategy is solely designed around the star and their last film. Such is the case with Anatomie, a rather gory and grisly thriller from Germany that builds its campaign around its charismatic star Franka Potente and her last film, the art house hit Run Lola Run. Potente does a lot of running in this film too, but it’s for a completely different reason.
Potente plays Paula, an ambitious and talented medical student who hails from a family of doctors. When she wins a prestigious scholarship to the Heidelberg School of anatomy and a chance to study under the renowned professor Grombek, Paula is delighted, although her father has reservations. But she soon discovers that the clinical, imposing, steely grey edifice of the anatomy school hides far darker secrets. An ancient secret society, that even predates the Nazis, is conducting bizarre experiments on live patients, supposedly for the advancement of medical science. Paula’s efforts to uncover and expose this ancient society put her life in danger, and she is uncertain whom she can trust within the medical school itself.
With its themes of unofficial medical experiments and body parts, Anatomie could well have been a nifty Germanic thriller in the same vein as the superb Coma, or even Extreme Measures, with overtones of Lars Von Trier’s epic The Kingdom thrown in for good measure. The scenario lends itself to plenty of gore, blood, ghoulish thrills, red herrings, and writer/director Stefan Ruzowitzky is certainly effective in delivering these elements in the film’s early scenes. Instead Ruzowitzky opts for a rather more cliched and predictable path that ultimately proves disappointing.
Anatomie makes the mistake of revealing its killer far too early, leaving itself nowhere to go except with a prolonged and cliche-ridden chase through the bowels of the hospital, as Paula is pursued by the scalpel-wielding killer.
Potente is still very good though, and brings a patented mixture of vulnerability, freshness and strength to a role written especially for her, and she provides a strong presence. It is only a matter of time before Hollywood snaps her up even if they may not quite know what to do with her.