WE MIGHT AS WELL BE DEAD
WIR KÖNNTEN GENAUSO GUT TOT SEIN
Natalia Sinelnikova, Germany, 2022, DCP, 93′, English subtitles
A high-rise at the edge of a forest houses a carefully curated community. When a dog disappears, Anna, who lives in the building with her teenage daughter, faces an absurd battle against an irrational fear that slowly spreads amongst the residents and disrupts the social cohesion of this delicate microcosm. Full of suspense and dark humour, and expertly shifting between social satire, deadpan dystopia and an absurd thriller, Sinelnikova’s incredibly confident graduation film and feature debut depicts fear as a self-reproducing system, using the high-rise as a Ballardian study of society at large.
“Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Natalia Sinelnikova’s assured debut – which features a magnetic central performance by Romanian actress Ioana Iacob – is that it’s her Babelsberg Film University graduation project. The Berlinale chose it to open the festival’s Perspektive Deutsches Kino German cinema sidebar, but it could easily have landed in a more exalted berth, as it’s a strikingly original, elegantly shot and designed and admirably controlled dystopian satire about the world’s current retreat from rational discourse towards paranoia-fuelled tribalism. /…/ Beneath its poised veneer, We Might As Well Be Dead simmers with the anger that bubbles over in its title. It’s about the way fear and paranoia make communities – whether they be suburbs, countries, or factions within countries – circle the wagons, listen only to what they want to hear, and exclude anyone who doesn’t conform to the group’s self-image. But like all the best satirical dramas, it also lets itself, and us, get distracted, aware that not every character and incident needs to be making a neat point.”
– Lee Marshall, Screen Daily