What is it about the switching of one consonant for another that miraculously seems to spark off a whole new significance to a word? Replacing a boring old ‘s’ for a more en vogue ‘z’, say, or, in this case, exchanging a ‘c’ for a ‘k’, somehow it’s all the more rebellious, isn’t it? Well, for The Edukators that’s wholly appropriate.
Two young freedom fighters, Jan (Daniel Brühl) and Peter (Stipe Erceg) are on a mission: to bring the rich down a peg or two. But their methods aren’t exactly traditional – these are no Robin Hood wannabes – rather than destroying all their victims own, or stealing it for their own purposes, Jan and Peter simply move around their much-treasured belongings. It’s their belief that creating a little disorder and chaos in the fortunate ones homes will prove just enough to freak them out a little, knowing that they, ‘The Edukators’, have accessed their safe domain.
With their conducts being reported in the paper, they’re finally getting their message across but without any police suspicion Jan and Peter are free to continue their reign of annihilation. That is until Peter, swanning off to Barcelona, leaves Jan alone to to look after his deeply in debt girlfriend, Jule (Julia Jentsch). During a bonding session, Jule confides in Jan about an event that saw her fortunes plummet – an unfortunate car accident which resulted in her owing an exceedingly rich man vast amounts of money each month.
An incensed Jan decides to let Jule in on the secret that sees himself and Peter off out in their van every night, and suggests playing the prank on the perpetrator of her misery. But after a little bit of hanky-panky ensues between the pair, Jule accidentally leaves her mobile (damn modern technology) behind, thus threatening the revolutionaries’ anonymity. To avoid that mishap they decide to retrieve the missing article, but, just as it happens, Herr Hardenberg (Burghart Klaußner), their target, arrives home from his holiday. What should their next move be? How far are they willing to go to prove a point?
The Edukators is one of those films that really pushes and pulls you in a variety of directions; one is never quite sure whether you agree with the young rebels, or if they’re manifesto is a load of old twaddle. Certainly their constant vocalizing of their beliefs at the injustice of the system in which we live in – the divide between rich and poor – gets a little too much at times. When they get to know more about the life of Hardenberg, the side the audience should take is complicated thus further, but it’s definitely a thought provoker.
That, I suspect, is the intention of director and co-writer Hans Weingartner, who constantly changes tack with his story. As we, the audience, are made to feel increasingly disorientated with what we should be thinking, it seems that these so-called free thinkers and their new companion become less sure of their own political stance… or do they? Even at the end, when you think you know where this is leading, you wont.
A little slow getting off the mark, but engaging performances from the young leads (particularly from Brühl, who you might recognise from Good Bye Lenin!) should be enough to keep you going – whether you agree with their ideals, or not.