The Chambermaid

The opening scenes of this dry comedy promise a familiar and oh-so-German allegory about domination and submission in middle-class society, a willowy hotel chambermaid (Vicki Krieps) acts out a pathetic S-M routine with her manager in discomfiting long takes. Yet writer-director Ingo Haeb has something odder and gentler in mind than the heavy psychodrama one expects: as it turns out, the heroine cooperates only so the manager will let her continue fulfilling her deepest passion—hiding under beds in the hotel and spying on guests. A recently released mental patient, she considers this perverse habit a form of therapy; the deadpan style forces one to take her at her word, and she proves surprisingly persuasive. In German with subtitles.