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Human Factors Review | Sundance 2021

Human Factors is, as the title would suggest, a human story about the different ways people deal and of the fallibility of those we trust the most. A family drama that plays with the idea of perspectives, which is a tool often used to increase tension and bring clarity, but here they miss the mark making the narrative drag and leaving you more confused at the end than you were when the journey began.

Wanja Valentin Kube, Mark Waschke, and Jule Hermann appear in Human Factors by Ronny Trocker, an official selection of the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.

A well-to-do family find themselves in a frightful situation when they encounter intruders in their vacation home. This widens an already prevalent rift in the marriage and further complicates the lives of their teenage daughter and pre-teen son.

There is this strange sense throughout the film that gnaws at you constantly– what really happened? The filmmakers play with time and perspective, attempting to shed light on the burglary and leaving Nina’s side of the story till the very end. Nina being the mother and only real witness to the intrusion.

I found myself admiring the natural dialogue as well as the performances of the actors. Mark Waschke & Sabine Timoteo lead with gripping emotion, authenticity and familiarity. They came together and fully sold their marriage– the good, the bad, and the complicated. Marthe Schneider and Wanja Valentin Kube also gave their all, delivering both in the quiet moments and in those times we find ourselves so overwhelmed that we need everyone to just go away.

Sabine Timoteo and Mark Waschke appear in Human Factors by Ronny Trocker, an official selection of the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.

Unfortunately, the lows far outweigh the highs.

Walking in I expected to be gripped by the thought of a family dealing with the emotional ramifications of surviving an encounter with home intruders, especially considering the bill I was sold promised a dad who hid during the event. Though the event played out very naturally the sequence left much to be desired and the point was something that very much kept alluding me.

The drama I expected from the break-in flew well under the radar and what we witnessed instead is an already faulty marriage fall apart because of office drama and irreconcilable differences present prior to the event the film wants you to believe is at its core.

5/10

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By Raul Navedo

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