Posted March 21, 2011 by editor in Film Reviews

Bedways Review

Aspiring director, Miriam Mayet, sets out to make an experimental film about the nature of relationships and sex. Her methods are unconventional: she brings two unknown actors (Matthias Faust and Lana Cooper) to the confines of a run-down Berlin apartment and instructs them to naturalistically portray a couple in a long-term relationship. The sex, she tells them as they discuss the fine line between a film with real sex and pornography (one of many cleverly self-reflexive uses of the film-within-a-film format), is only a small part of her vision and it’s a neat trick that, whenever we see the couple’s interactions over the few days the film covers, it’s rarely clear at first whether we’re seeing them acting or between takes and, if we realise it’s the former, it’s harder still to discern where the relationship between their assumed roles ends and the relationship being forged between the actors begins.

As the days go by, divided by abstractly-titled title cards, we see the relationship between director and actors change. The pivotal moment is the film’s main sex scene between the two leads, which is captured in a stark one-camera shot. Not the scene itself, but that immediately after, which shows the faces of the three characters as they watch it played back, ending lingeringly on Mayet, who we know has some kind of history with Faust. From there, the perspective broadens to look at the feelings and desires of the characters outside of the film, as the director begins to experiment with her own sexuality, before addressing the tension between her and the male lead in a shockingly unconventional and honest manner.

The film-within-a-film format is a very clever device. The intent of Mayet to capture something of the nature of intimate relationships mirrors that of the film itself and so, Mayet’s character acts as a proxy for the director when she discusses what she wants to do, voices concerns over the validity of her methods and talks about the role of sex within a relationship. The methods employed mirror those of the director too – resolutely naturalistic with a fondness for long, unblinking shots and an emphasis on dialogue over action.

Bedways is not without its flaws: occasionally it’s a little heavy-handed, labouring its point and one underdeveloped plot point regarding the relationship between the director and her female lead seems – though executed tastefully enough – unnecessary and perhaps a little beneath the admirable aspirations of the rest of the film. For the most part though, this is a well-crafted, ambitious film that’s well-deserving of your attention.

Adam Richardson