Movie Review: German orphans ponder a mystery and carry a beef with “Ingenium”

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Many a thriller has hung its hat on a “big reveal” that was only suitable for hanging itself out to dry.

So it is with “Ingenium,” a tense-if-not-exasperating sci-fi mystery from Germany. You pay attention. You follow the clues. You try to piece it together.

And when you do, you think, “Well, Joseph Gordon-Levitt got there first, didn’t he? And that Hayden Christensen fellow?” And no, I’m not going to explain that any further. Film fans can do the math.

Two little German girls meet in an orphanage, tiny tots who can’t remember exact details of how their parents died.

Years later, one of them says “I can’t remember anything much these days.”

“Sometimes, it’s better that way,” she’s told.

In adulthood, Felicitas (Esther Maaß) is in therapy, undergoing hypnosis to try and pull her past together. Maybe a solo trip to Thailand is just what she needs!

Composer-beau Titus (Adrian Topol) is OK with that. “Just be sure to take your pills.” Naturally, she doesn’t.

But being a pretty young Euro-tourist, she’s offered a tour by the cute local Thai woman who speaks English and German. But when “Feli” nervously returns home, there’s video Gai (Jan Yousagoon) left on her phone, a message straight out of “Ghost.”

“You in danger, girl!” Go find this photo of you and BFF Natascha back at the orphanage. It’ll help.

Dr. Jung’s (HAH!) hypnosis unravels part of the mystery, a murderous attack in a Bangkok alley that Feli has survived but suppressed. Does away with the messy memory of killing somebody.

But now she’s got to go visit the friend who, it turns out, is in a mental hospital. Natascha (Judith Hoersch) is borderline catatonic, easily “triggers” and when she’s triggered, she always escapes to the ruins of the old orphanage.

The homeless sage there (Tony De Maeyer) gives away this. But how does she escape, why is she battered and bloodied every time she shows up?

And why are Feli’s shrink and boyfriend so worried about her and her “pills?”

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“Ingenium” talks and talks and never quite trips over itself as it stumbles toward delivering its major revelation. The cast is more competent than compelling (performing mostly in German, with English subtitles).

But truth be told, the tight, effects-driven action sequences in the third act are a nice payoff. It’s just that whole premise, the way it comes out and the muddled manner the story is resolved all but talk “Ingenium” right out of its selling points.

And covering ground Joe Go-Lev and Hayden Christensen have already crossed doesn’t help. “Ingenium” works better as a mystery than as a mystery solved.

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MPAA Rating: unrated, violence

Cast: Esther Maaß, Judith Hoersch, Jan Yousagoon, Adrian Topol, Tony De Maeyer and Augustin Kramann

Credits: Directed by Steffen Hacker, script by Michael Knoll.  A Level 33 release.

Running time: 1:27

 

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