Institute Benjamenta

“Sometime (in the twentieth) century, somewhere in Europe: Jakob von Gunten (Mark Rylance) enrolls at the Institute Benjamenta, a run-down edifice headed by an eccentric tyrant (Gottfried John) and dedicated to the training of suitably unambitious, humble servants. . . . (Jakob) begins to wonder whether he might be sufficiently princely to rescue his melancholy tutor, Benjamenta's sister Lisa (Alice Krige), from the suffocating half-life she leads inside the school's sinister, shadowy walls. Inspired by the writings of Swiss novelist Robert Walser, the first feature from the Brothers Quay is outlandishly beautiful, bizarre, mysterious and inventive, (with) intense performances elicited from a strong international cast. . . . The film can be seen as a (finally subversive) variation on traditional fairytale motifs, as an allegory on our progress through-as an alternative title would have it-‘This Dream People Call Human Life,' or as a loving tribute to cinema's fantastic capacity for poetry.”

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