☼☼☼☼☼☼☼(☼) out of 10☼
A promising debut for the German writer/director Leonie Krippendorff, Looping brings together three superb actresses in a sympathetic study of love, longing and (inner) loneliness. In another display of incredible talent, Jella Haase (Lollipop Monster) plays a melancholic, motherless adolescent, Leila, who becomes a victim of rape and ends up in a (quite liberal) mental institution. There, she meets an enigmatic middle-aged patient, Ann (the brilliant Marie-Lou Sellem of Tykwer's Winter Sleepers fame), and later, a young, bulimic saxophonist, Frenja (Lana Cooper, almost unrecognizable and far removed from her role in Love Steaks), and BANG! - a bond between them is formed.
Although these women come from different milieus, they do have one thing in common - being lost to themselves and to those around them. With profound sadness in her eyes, Leila recklessly sleepwalks through her life, frequently dreaming of the past; Frenja gives everything for her family's happiness to the point of self-destruction, while Ann whose background remains foggy even after being shed some light on conceals suicidal thoughts under her hardened expression. The desire to make their crippled souls whole again does come true, but for how long? Well, Krippendorff does not give a clear answer, leaving the oneiric ending open to viewer's interpretation.
In fact, she favors the silence of images over explanations and avoids most of the melodramatic trappings in the psychological exploration of her fucked-up characters and the dynamics of their relationship. On top of the excellent, believable performances, she and her DP Jieun Yi (also a newcomer to keep an eye on) provide a bunch of beautifully lit and handsomely composed shots, with many close-ups which reflect the protagonists' fragility. The solid editing and atmospheric, unobtrusive music by Jihyeon Park and Tammy Ingram, respectively, elevate the film even more, beyond its minor flaws.