All is Well (2018) Review – A Penetrative Hypothesis


Alles ist gut which is the German for “all good” or “All is Well” is a 2018 Netflix original. The film did it’s rounds at the international film festivals in 2018, but couldn’t find a portal to be showcased at, until it struck a deal with the streaming giant. The film goes by the name All Is Well (Alles ist gut) on Netflix and is the debut directorial venture of Eva Trobisch. The film dwells deep into the psychology of a rape victim. It tries to understand what goes inside the body and mind of an individual who has gone through such trauma. All is Well never vilifies or pours scorn on any course of action taken by the victim. No matter how unpopular opinion the victim holds, like the reluctance to take a legal recourse, the film never identifies the person as being cowardly or dastardly. The narrative keeps itself aloof from stigmatising or branding, instead embraces the million possibilities of human behavior.

The Premise

Aenne Schwarz who plays the character of Janne, goes to attend her college reunion. There are alot of stressful turn of events prior to the reunion. A business venture which she runs with her boyfriend Piet, played by Andreas Dohler, goes bankrupt. Things are falling apart, and people boasting about their success stories in the reunion does not help the cause. Janne feels out of place, and doesn’t has much to brag about her economically strained and muddled life. She drinks heavily and meets a socially awkward man named Martin, played by Howard Low, and strikes a conversation with him. They come back to Janne’s place post the reunion. Under an impaired cognitive and motor functioning, which in my opinion can never be taken as a defense, Martin makes certain advances, and reaches his individual threshold where it becomes almost impossible for him to retreat. There comes a point where the ego-centrism blindfolds the rationale of an individual, a point which is so hormonally driven that anything less than what the mind and body desires, leads to aggravated anguish. These emotions have such an impact that an individual refrains from seeing the bigger picture, and the lifelong trauma that he is in the process of creating for the other party.

Janne never tells a word about this incident to anyone, not even her boyfriend. She starts working for Robert, an old  acquaintance, in the capacity of a chief editor. Soon she encounters Martin once again, whom she finds out to be the brother in law of Robert.

A Tonic Immobility

There can be a general perception among the audience that Janne never resisted in a vociferous manner and even after the incident she seemed to possess a very composed and calm demeanor. People might point a finger at her approach and consider it to be apprehensive and feeble in nature. Some pseudo intellectuals resonating with the moral turpitude of a society might also go to the lengths of blaming the victim in this case. The silence of the protagonist could be misread by a third party i.e. the family in specific and the society in general. It is to be seen that their opinions cannot be said to totally wrong, but is merely the view of an bona-fide on looker. The problem runs deep and the situation suffers from many convolutions. First of them being, the difficulty with which the victim starts to process what actually happened and acceptance of the same. The mind enters into a sort of paralysis and the stimulus often becomes unconscious with the dilemma of what to do or how to respond to a situation that it has no experience of. Janne too responds by saying a mere “ are you serious”, because she is unable to paraphrase the shock, which her mind is still processing, into words. There is always this innate feeling that chokes you and deep down tells you that it is wrong. As it is seen when Janne encounters Martin post the incident, she couldn’t resist but feel claustrophobic. Martin’s mere presence makes her feel violated. It coerces the visions of that particular night which seem ambiguous now. An incident like that shuns your senses and you can no longer differentiate between what’s real and unreal. Janne abstains from telling anyone because she just wants to move on and block the memories of that night. She tries to tell her mother in a scene but perceiving that it is not going to stop what she is feeling, she stops mid way diverting the issue. Martin too completely realizes that he has done a criminal act and tells Janne how apologetic and guilty he is feeling. He tells Janne that he is ready to do anything that makes her feel better. But she is not in a state to understand what is right, what is wrong, what would make her feel good, or what is the recourse she should be taking according to general perception. She doesn’t seem to find any way to escape this trauma physically and the brain dissociates itself and ceases to help her through this mess. The audience might feel  that her behavior does not match that of a “NORMAL VICTIM“. But this is how incoherent human psychology is.

Eva Trobisch is somebody to look out for in her future ventures. The screenplay written by her is immaculate and does not ever becomes less tenacious or falls into the pit of stereotyping. She chooses to never take close-ups in an attempt to observe Janne from the perspective of a third person. Aenne Schwarz is brilliant and never misses a beat. This one and a half hour drama challenges the herd mentality, some pre-conceived bona-fide notions, and you just cannot afford to miss it.

All Is Well (Alles ist gut) is streaming on Netflix.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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