By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
Students of philosophy and psychology should know the name Lou Andreas-Salomé; however, those who haven’t probably won’t recognize it. Most people are familiar with, or have heard of both Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud, though. These famous intellectuals have probably achieved much more fame than Andreas-Salomé, who has not only studied with both men, but has also made some valuable contributions of her own. Although both Nietzsche and Freud have been honored by multiple portrayals in cinema, Lou Andreas-Salomé is finally getting a biopic of her own and it is about time.
Written and directed by German filmmaker Cordula Kablitz-Post, Lou Andreas-Salomé, The Audacity To Be Free comprehensively covers the life, studies and career of the Russian author, philosopher, and psychoanalyst as she sought a very untraditional life during the late nineteenth century through the early twentieth century. In doing so, she becomes a trailblazer for female empowerment and the feminist movement. During her ambitious journey, Lou pursues the study of philosophy and psychoanalysis diligently and eventually becomes respected colleagues of Frederick Nietzche (Alexander Scheer) and Paul Rée (Philipp Hauß). While working, studying and writing with Lou, these two men fall in love with her; however, despite her feelings for them, she has vowed never to pursue romantic relationships or marry. During the last years of her life, Lou employs an adoring fan named Ernst Pfeiffer (Matthias Lier) who assists her with her memoirs. These memoirs would have to be kept hidden as the Nazis in Germany sought to destroy all traces of progressive thinking.
Cordula Kablitz-Post, who co-wrote the film with Suzanne Hertel, has made a truly compelling and fascinating biopic with this film. It is definitely overdue that such a brilliant mind of philosophy and psychology get her first biopic. Lou Andreas-Salomé may have had unorthodox ways of thinking, but her progressive lifestyle and beliefs certainly made headway for women’s rights and empowered other women to pursue education and other ambitious endeavors. Lou’s confidence and inner strength is a wonderful example for women all over to follow suit in some respects. Some of her ideas, though, had their flaws. Still, Kablitz-Post and her writers do make it a point to address the good and the bad things that made Andreas-Salomé who she was and do so with great skill and artistry. The film does follow some of the tropes typical of other biopics, but does not rely too heavily on them.
The cast is also quite phenomenal with several exceptional actors in great roles. Matthias Lier brings much earnestness and frailty to his role as Ernst Pfeiffer. Katharina Schüttler gives a breakthough performance as Lou’s adopted daughter and caregiver Mariechen. As the iconic Frederick Nietzche, Alexander Scheer gives a very passionate and charismatic turn as Lou’s most famous colleague and unsuccessful suitor. Speaking of passionate, I was also impressed with actor Julius Feldmeier who portrays Lou’s first lover, Rainer Maria Rilke, a sensitive and artistic writer and poet who wears his heart on his sleeve and bares his soul through his writing and expressions of love for Lou. Other great cast members include Petra Morzé, Philipp Hauß, Merab Ninidze, and Harald Schrott.
Four wonderful actresses were cast to portray Lou in the various stages of her life. At age 6, Helena Pieske makes a delightful impression as little Louise von Salomé. Liv Lisa Fries has some lovely and powerful scenes as 16 year-old Louise. Katharina Lorenz gives a superbly realized and developed performance as Lou during the ages 21 through 50. Finally, Nicole Heesters gives a charmingly wonderful turn as Lou at the age of 72.
I absolutely adored and enjoyed this biopic about an amazing woman of whom I had originally knew very little. I was not only impressed with Lou Andreas-Salomé as a character and real person, I also became rather impressed with Cordula Kablitz-Post, a woman whose work I had never previously seen. I would love to highly recommend this movie to all of my readers this weekend; however, those who live outside of New York City will have to wait until later. This film opens for an exclusive engagement on April 20th at the Village East Cinema in NYC. Go to https://www.citycinemas.com/villageeast/film/lou-andreas-salome-the-audacity-to-be-free for tickets and showtimes. The film also will begin an exclusive engagement on April 27 at Laemmle’s Royal Theater in Los Angeles, California. Go to https://www.laemmle.com/films/43826 for those tickets and showtimes. For more information on the film and the other places where it will be shown, go to LouTheFilm.com.