‘The film offers so little it leaves me with so little to talk about’
Kidnapping Stella, 2019
Directed by: Thomas Seven
Written by: Thomas Seven
Starring: Clemens Schick, Max von der Groeben, Jella Haase
A German film, dubbed over on the Netflix version, Kidnapping Stella tells the story of two men, Vic (Clemens Schick) and Tom (Max von der Groeben), who met in prison, and their plan to kidnap a woman named Stella (Jella Haase) and hold her to ransom. Netflix advertises that Stella ‘uses her limited powers to derail her two masked abductors’, which made me think it was going to be a film along the same vein as Gerald’s Game, but, sadly, I was wrong.
In actuality, the focus is more on the abductors than on Stella; we see them finding the building, decorating it with soundproof foam, carefully abduct her and ensure all their plan is followed through intricately. The only time the focus shifts to Stella and her fight for survival, Tom is usually in the room, too. It just seemed like a strange decision to have them as the focal point but the advertising place it on her.
I completely accept that in certain films you need to suspend your disbelief in order to gain full enjoyment, and I can do that. But, I do request that films make it believable in their world. They give a timeline in Kidnapping Stella of four months, in which time Vic and Tom met in prison, got out of prison, planned this whole kidnapping ruse, found a vehicle to steal, found a building to house her in, a building that is completely devoid of other life, actually kidnap her (again in a completely isolated area with no people) and then offer the ransom. That’s a lot to accept, but then you factor in the amount of money they need (to buy burner phones, masks, noise-cancelling foam and everything else), it all just comes across as ridiculous.
Even if you overlook how preposterous that all is, the actions the characters take is equally ludicrous. Stella escapes extremely easily at least twice, but on each time she’s foiled and kidnapped again. It also telegraphs Tom’s unease at the plan right from the first moment, which just releases any-and-all tension, because you find yourself just waiting for him to change his stance and regret his actions. The twists aren’t exciting, the revelations are boring, the lack of believability is ridiculous and the progression is poor. I hope this film is not a reflection of German films in general.
I’m struggling to think of anything too positive to say about the film; I’ve seen worse acting, worse dialogue and the presentation isn’t shocking, but even those are poor. Even the dubbing is done by poor voice actors. I normally try for my reviews to be longer, but when the film offers so little it leaves me with so little to talk about. It is just 90-minutes of two men holding her captive while talking about other characters (there are no other actors in this film, not even Stella’s parents who are paying the ransom) and bouncing around the inevitable change of heart by Tom. I’d steer clear if I were you.
Personal: * Acting: * * Writing: * * Presentation: * *