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All of Austrian filmmaker Barbara Albert’s three feature films, Nordrand (Northern Skirts) (1999), Böse Zellen (Free Radicals) (2003) and Fallen (Falling) (2006), portray human relationships in flux and depict people reacting to changes in the world. These films critique society obliquely as they present damaged figures in their attempts to shape a meaningful existence. Albert always manages to keep the viewer floating on the side of this latter point—that of looking for a meaningful existence, even though the social setting often appears so meaningless and commercialized. In Böse Zellen the building and opening of a new shopping mall play a role in bringing together the many characters’ lives. This film from 2003 and its mall’s offering of a carousel of consumer fantasy masks a sense of alienation in contemporary society; this alienation appears in all of Albert’s films, but it provides specific anti-consumerist ideas in Böse Zellen—a film that successfully empties the promise of consumer happiness.

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This document was originally published by Dickinson College in Glossen. Copyright restrictions may apply.