Cultural difference, masculine bravado, and national pride lead to high tensions in the latest work from Valeska Grisebach (Longing), about a group of German construction workers labouring in the Bulgarian countryside. Co-produced Maren Ade (Toni Erdmann) and beautifully shot by Bernard Keller, Western achieves an astute naturalism, largely through the casting of non-actors and Grisebach’s technique of embedding herself in the Bulgarian countryside for a long pre-production period. Evoking the western genre as typified by the films of John Ford, Western intelligently deals with the fear of the Other.
★★★★★ “One of the films of the year has arrived – maybe the best of the year – a work of unmatched subtlety, complexity and artistry. Valeska Grisebach’s striking drama constantly subverts genre expectations. Grisebach has not, in fact, made many movies, but on the strength of this one, she deserves to be considered a major film-maker.” Guardian