Young inmate Jenny and ageing piano teacher Traude appear to share nothing in common beyond a talent for the instrument. Traude desperately struggles to ensure that Jenny’s talent isn’t wasted, but her violently unhinged behaviour threatened to undermine their efforts. As they face further obstacles in the shape of the wardens and other prisoners, Traude’s direction seems to go unappreciated by Jenny who’s unaware that her teacher also suffered a violent past.
Four Minutes shares a similar theme with Haneke’s The Piano Teacher and reaches a similar level of finesse by focusing on historical horror rather than sexual dysfunction. Two intricately planned lead characters are vital for a plot that that unveils an intelligently layered plot that opts for subtlety over statement. It’s a style that will reward repeated viewing, indicating that Four Minutes could be Germany’s crossover hit for 2008, following the likes of The Counterfeiters, Downfall and The Lives of Others.