What We Wanted

  • 21 Nov - 27 Nov, 2020
  • Mag The Weekly

Netflix film What We Wanted is Austria’s official Oscar hopeful. Director Ulrike Kofler’s domestic drama has been submitted for this year’s Best International Feature award; it stars Lavinia Wilson and Elyas M’Barek as a Viennese couple struggling to conceive a child, and is based on short stories by Swiss writer Peter Stamm. A doctor examines the ultrasound images. Bad news it is for Alice (Wilson) and Niklas (M’Barek) of another miscarriage. After four tries, the doctor says, it’s time to take a break; maybe they should go on vacation? Implication being, they may be out of options. They return home, where contractors work on a long-gestating addition. Alice is in a simmering depression – quiet, sad, angry. She’s the picture of discouragement, and possibly inconsolable. She and Niklas drive cross-country and take the ferry to the Italian island of Sardinia. They’re barely pulled into a resort and unpacked when the occupants of the neighbouring drive up – a family of four, loudly and constantly chattering, unloading mounds of luggage and gear. Christl (Anna Unterberger) and Romed (Lukas Spisser) and their teenage son David (Fedor Teyml) and post-toddler daughter Denise (Iva Hopperger) are also from Vienna, and they’re friendly and introduce themselves, but actively disrupt any tranquility Niklas and Alice might desire. What We Wanted is across-the-board sturdy, strong on all fronts, but never quite pushing into exceptional territory.