The Ground Beneath My Feet, written and directed by Marie Kreutzer, is a new Austrian thriller that hopes to challenge the audience’s preconceived notions about the role of women in society. Unfortunately the film ends up feeling far too stagnant to deliver its message in any meaningful or impactful way.
The movie’s story sounds compelling on paper, with the protagonist experiencing multiple sources of conflict, from hiding her relationship with her boss to coping with the stress caused by her sister’s mental health issues. However, despite the fact that there is seemingly so much going on in the film on paper, the result somehow still manages to feel aggressively bland.
One big issue with the movie is that it isn’t particularly well-paced. A slow burn is one thing, but for a thriller like that to work, there has to be something compelling and shocking to which it is building. The end to which The Ground Beneath My Feet builds simply isn’t that impressive. The film takes an unnecessarily long and slow route to get to the most obvious end possible.
Additionally, the character development feels rather underwhelming. The protagonist isn’t given much of a personality, making her feel almost like a robot. Granted, this may be the point of the movie — that her life is mundane and that mundanity is what is causing her to spiral into insanity — but this doesn’t change the fact that she isn’t a compelling enough character to make you want to follow her for an entire film.
As a result, the movie isn’t able to hit the emotional beats that would have made it more successful. The film deals with some tough themes, including mental illness and attempted suicide, so it should have been relatively easy for this movie to create an emotional connection with the audience. Instead, the film feels cold and distant, as if we are following the protagonist through an unreal world.
The actresses in the movie do a good enough job in their roles, and since there is so little emotion in the script and the characters, they end up having to do a majority of the heavy lifting. The lead actress, Valerie Pachner, does a good enough job of playing the robotic Lola. It will be interesting to see how she handles more complex roles requiring a greater range in the future.
The film’s execution is just as bland as its script too. The overall look of the movie is very impersonal. In many ways, the film would have been better off had it been more stylized, with a more unsettling visual style to create a sense of unease. With a little bit of extra work, the visuals could have been used to make the script feel creepy in its mundanity, but as is, it’s just average.
Although The Ground Beneath My Feet has a handful of interesting ideas, none of them are explored in a way that is compelling enough to justify watching the hour and forty-five minutes it takes to discuss them. Ultimately, this is nothing more than a missed opportunity.
The Ground Beneath My Feet opens in theaters on July 26.