“Always Quiet” or “Immerstill,” directed by Eva Spreitzhofer, is a slow-paced country crime thriller discussing the slow-moving nature of the village and villagers of Immerstill. While being cohesive both literally and figuratively, the film debates feminist themes and vouches for giving a voice to the voiceless. Renate Lipus is missing, and neither her husband, Hubert Lipus (Michael Weger), nor the police nor the villagers are bothered about her whereabouts. Hannelore Schiller (Julia Cencig), author of ‘Self-healing through Art,’ doesn’t want to remain silent about the missing women in Immerstill, and therefore she devises a plan that does make a change for the better but also accidentally creates trouble.
Nevertheless, the film adds to the list of movies and series that speak of giving respect and dignity to women. Like in ‘Elite,’ the Spanish teen drama by Carlos Montero, Isadora Artinan (Valentina Zenere) is vehemently blamed, although a victim, for causing or inviting sexual assault and rape. ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ starring Elisabeth Moss (as Offred), showed us how women in a dystopian world are stereotyped into a certain role and are insignificant, and no one listens to them and hardly cares whether or not they exist. Bollywood audiences will remember SI Satish Rawat as the negligent police officer who brushes away the missing case of Mili and deliberately hides the information on the last tower location of Mili received from the Cyber Cell. From victim blaming to people’s indifference and the inactivity of the police regarding the disappearance of women, “Immerstill” handles these delicate issues efficiently, making the point clear that there is a need for awakening and resistance.
Will Lisa Resist The Silence Of The Police?
When Lisa Schiller’s (Christina Cervenka) younger sister, Marie (Helena Dorothea Greiner), along with her friend Natalie Wieser (Marie Korb), go missing, she returns to Immerstill, leaving the ‘Happy Lisa’s Cake’ shop in Vienna closed. Her father, Valentin (Dominik Warta), is least worried about Marie’s disappearance, as are the police, who are even reluctant to register a missing person complaint or make an attempt to listen to Lisa’s case. This is not the first time the police and the villagers have experienced the disappearance of girls or women; they have encountered several cases, so Marie and Natalie’s disappearance doesn’t affect them. They don’t even make an attempt to help Lisa. Before Marie and Natalie’s disappearance, Kathi and Markus (Albert Kokaly) disappeared, and instead of searching for them, they only made assumptions about them escaping together to New Zealand, where Kathi was interested in visiting.
Lisa had her doubts and based on her past experiences; she was suspicious of Markus who’s disappeared and Hubert. Lisa visits the pub that celebrated carnival and where Marie and Natalie were last seen, and she asks the villagers for cues as to where they might have gone. She finds a video that suggests they could be with Hubert adding to her speculation. But Hubert is said to have lived a happy married life until his wife Renate left him, citing domestic violence, and from then on, his life had been topsy-turvy. He had to learn to carry out the household chores by himself. A clear-cut representation of how women were treated and stereotyped by being burdened with certain tasks. On the other hand, Lisa is self-employed, and her aunt Hannelore is an accomplished woman. Both have their opinions and are not willing to stay inactive and silent. Lisa and her aunt want to know more; they want the help of the police, but looking at their indifference, they take it upon themselves to investigate quietly. Finally adhering to Lisa, Patrick Pollanc (Michael Glantschnig), her ex-boyfriend, and a police officer, along with his father Jani, decide to help only limitedly. Nevertheless, the resistance to the silence of the police by Lisa and Hannelore leads the law enforcement personnel to start the search for Marie and Natalie with the help of the villagers without trampling on the evidence.
Who Is Markus? And Why Is He A Suspect In The Disappearances Of Kathi, Marie, And Natalie?
Markus is the son of Karl (Arthur Klemt) and Traude (Johanna Orsini-Rosenberg) Feinig. According to Traude, Markus had physically abused her, and her negative testimony to the police led them to consider Markus a strong suspect. Even his sister Anna (Christina Polzer) hated him and was happy that he was missing. Lisa, too, believed that it could be Markus, as he had a stronger motive for the disappearance of young girls whom he could have sexually or physically abused. When both Kathi and Markus disappeared, the villagers speculated that they were lovers and that they had escaped to another country together.
It turns out Markus was killed in self-defense by Kathi, who was sexually and physically abused by him. Markus didn’t like that Kathi was in love with Marie. He couldn’t bear that Kathi avoided him and paid attention to Marie. Therefore, he wanted to prove that he was a better choice than Marie. A glaring trait of patriarchy is made significant through Markus and his fatal choices.
‘Immerstill’ Ending Explained – Will Kathi, Marie, Natalie, And Renate, Who Silently Disappeared, Be Found?
When the police and the villagers started the search throughout the village for Marie and Natalie, Hubert and his dog found the body of Natalie floating in the water, and the autopsy report showed that she’d drowned and died. After a few days, Marie is found lying on the road, hypothermic, and having suffered a Xanol overdose. When at Klagenfurt Hospital, Marie suggests Hubert’s name so that he can be searched and investigated. But given the Xanol overdose, Lisa reasons out that Hannelore could have caused the whole disappearance stunt. And evidently, Hannelore admits to have done it so that he could make the police search for Renate.
Marie and Natalie were found because there was an attempt to search for them. There was a fear of many more cases of missing persons arising if this case was ignored. But it happened because Hannelore planned, along with Marie and Natalie, that they should remain hidden until the police and villagers start searching for Kathi, Markus, and them. Natalie had no further interest in the case when she got to know that Kathi was safe and alive. And when she tries to escape Hannelore, she injures her skull, falling unconscious. Hannelore, confused and scared by the incident, throws an unconscious Natalie into the water. When the search still continues for Kathi and Markus, it is learned that Kathi is safely hiding in the workshop attic until Lisa’s father finds a way to help Kathi escape to New Zealand. If the same inquisitiveness was shown at the time of Renate’s disappearance, perhaps some evidence could have been found.
The attitude of remaining silent, especially when women are missing, changed when Hannelore decided not to remain dormant. The police started to realize that it is their solemn duty to provide security and ensure safety for the villagers under their care. Women realized that they were better off without men and that they could have the agency to decide for themselves and not be ruled upon. Whether it was Marie, Lisa, or Hannelore, all three of them made it a point to question the existing norm of “Immerstill”. Their attempt made the village switch from the awful act of remaining silent to sharing or talking to one another. These women changed the perspective of the villagers to not worry about what others will think if one is a victim. “Immerstill” works largely because it empowers women and gives them a voice of their own.
“Immerstill” is a 2023 German thriller drama film directed by Eva Spreitzhofer.