The feverish curve of a love story, 24-minute staccato of emotionally charged scenes and passions that all those in love, those who love each other and those who have fallen out of love know only too well – “Hysteria” shows the ups and downs and the great sensations of a changeable relationship. What makes the film so special is its perspective, because the big, small drama of moods and feelings is presented only through a chain of telephone calls by a single person, as a halved dialogue without the voice, face and location of the person opposite.
Emma, the only visible and audible protagonist of the film, wallows and raves, enjoys and suffers, problematizes and rages with the telephone at her ear. She sits, stands, walks, lolls and tiggles up and down, sometimes in a Berlin apartment, sometimes in an apartment somewhere on the Italian coast – and the camera never leaves her side.
Without the natural second transmitter and receiver, this ancient “amour fou” game is irritating, even energizing, and creates a peculiar distance, even though as a viewer you are right there. As if under a burning glass, Emma is observed without one being able to judge whether she is behaving quite “normally” according to the law of love or possibly falling into madness – just as it would be for any lover if he were to say something about his own behaviour.
The source material that Mlecko used as documentary material for “Hysteria” is his collection of authentic text messages. It is particularly important to him to realize a technical implementation that is appropriate for cinema, so that film as the chosen medialization is not only hinted at or quoted, but actually redeemed for the viewer. Mlecko has been working as an artist with cinematic aesthetics and dramaturgy for many years. In his conceptual photo series and videos, he attempts to trace the general cultural conditions of today’s Western society in the sense of an ethnologist – not as a scientist, however, but as a “picture maker” with a special feeling for the compositional and atmospheric potential of these media. Anyone who sees “Hysteria” will not be surprised that Mlecko’s household gods of cinematic art include above all Antonioni, Godard, Cassavetes and Marker.