LIFE GUIDANCE: Genre-bending in a dystopian future

Life Guidance
Austrian filmmaker Ruth Mader depicts a future under the absolute triumph of capitalism in her new dystopian sci-fi drama, Life Guidance.

In a society run by overachievers leading an “optimal” lifestyle, where anybody under the benchmark is sent to live in the sedated “Fortress of Sleep” neighborhoods, financial analyst Alexander Dworsky (Fritz Karl) one day finds himself feeling not so optimal.

Immediately Life Guidance steps in to “help” him, but Alexander will soon discover that this outsourced agency that helps people get back on the optimal track may not be so benevolent after all…

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In her second feature film, Ruth Mader continues the style and themes of her previous feature, Struggle. The grey emptiness of capitalism and the poverty of its castaways keeps seeping through the core of Life Guidance. Mader’s camera stays still and rigid and her actors, too, are often stuck in stillness.

The performances are often charged with a Brechtian distancing effect, in which the subjects often appear devoid of emotion in even the most charged moments of an episode. The stylistics of political theatre indeed might seem appropriate for Mader’s politically charged film.

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