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Etwas Nutzlos (Somewhat Useless)

average rating is 5 out of 5


Patrick Foley


Posted on:

Apr 3, 2023

Film Reviews
Etwas Nutzlos (Somewhat Useless)
Directed by:
Eric Liddle
Written by:
Eric Liddle
Gabriel Tauber, Leonie Euler, Matthew Greenaway

Eric Liddle’s Somewhat Useless (or Etwas Nutzlos in its native German) is a short, experimental film made entirely of still imagery stitched together to make a seamless symbolic story. Despite the unconventional nature of its production, this film feels alive and energetic.


In an overbearing and cold Berlin, Stefan (Gabriel Tauber) experiences a severe case of depression and imposter syndrome as his relationship with his girlfriend (Leonie Euler) collapses in front of his eyes. He begins to question his very identity as a sudden and overwhelming sense of change engulfs his life.


Somewhat Useless is an emotive and surreal short that is as much of an experience as it is a film. Touching on complex and difficult emotive spaces, this 6-minute feature will reach deep into the state of the viewer to extract their own experiences that are alike those of protagonist Stefan – whose strange journey through his own psyche will be familiar to anyone who has felt lost or unsure of their purpose or position in life. The shattering and splitting of his identity into a totally different person (played here by Matthew Greenaway) is executed brilliantly and never feels like a stale trope as such storytelling techniques often do. The film’s final scene and line land are a wonderful and earned conclusion of this exploration.


The film is essentially told in real-life stop-motion, with still images painstakingly assembled to make a coherent plot. The editing is so seamless, unaware audiences will likely think traditional shooting forms the basis of the film for the most part. The minimal jumpiness seen throughout lends itself to enhancing the storytelling by emphasising a sense of disconnect and otherworldliness to Stefan’s interpretation of the world. Eric Liddle even plays with the technique as a photograph taken of Stefan becomes a key storytelling device within the world itself – and the implications that someone’s state in a still image has for the plot.


Liddle uses the Berlin setting itself to map the complex journey Stefan undergoes, with artistic framing of everything from park gaslights to the city’s metro system to further demonstrate the film’s inventive nature. Gabriel Tauber captures Stefan’s torn nature brilliantly – feeling both at home and lost in his surroundings. Tauber lounges in the most European of fashions around the city streets, yet questions his every move as he navigates a confusing time in his life.


Somewhat Useless is not just an artistic accomplishment, but also a poignant emotional journey that is empathetic, unnerving and intelligent. It’s depth and layers are worth exploring again and again, and will be sure to be debated by viewers as it taps into intimate personal experiences.

About the Film Critic
Patrick Foley
Patrick Foley
Digital / DVD Release, Short Film, World Cinema, Indie Feature Film
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