Review: Barbet Schroeder sets moving sociopolitical drama ‘Amnesia’ against scenic Ibiza backdrop

The vibrant Ibiza sunshine brings some long-gestating resentments to light in Barbet Schroeder’s “Amnesia,” an affecting rumination on the moral weight of personal choices.

A longtime resident of the idyllic Mediterranean island, Martha (the ever-elegant Marthe Keller), had been living a quiet life of simplicity and relative solitude before the arrival of Jo (Max Riemelt), a 25-year-old electronic music composer from Berlin intent on making his name in the burgeoning club scene.

They proceed to strike up a sweetly poignant flirtation but it hits an impasse over German-born Martha’s refusal to ride in Jo’s Volkswagen and speak in her native tongue in protest over the atrocities committed during WWII.

Although Jo isn’t wrong to accuse Martha of confining her life to a self-imposed set of rules “stacked like scaffolding,” he was nevertheless born long after she witnessed the events that shaped her behavior.

Set, not coincidentally, in the early 1990s just after the dismantling of the Berlin Wall and around the same time Schroeder received an Oscar nomination for directing “Reversal of Fortune,” this very personal work marks a welcome return to character-driven form for the filmmaker.


While its insights into the consequences of selective memory loss continue to resonate the world over, at its heart, “Amnesia” is a beautifully acted depiction of confronting regret.

Against that seductively framed Ibiza backdrop, heated sociopolitical discourse has never looked so inviting.



In English, and German and Spanish with English subtitles

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes

Playing: Aero Theatre, Santa Monica, 7:30 p.m. July 30 as part of American Cinematheque Schroeder retrospective; now on VOD

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