Still from 'Woman's Lake'
Still from ‘Woman’s Lake’

Set in the picturesque hinterlands of Northern Berlin, Zoltan Paul’s quirky German drama, Woman’s Lake (aka Frauensee), is visually distinctive as the film incessantly wades through miles of a tranquil lake

In complete contrast to her mastery of the lake, professional fisherwoman, Rosa (Nele Rosetz), struggles to keep her head above water when interacting with her career-swamped partner, architect Kirsten (Therese Haemer).

It’s not all plain sailing for the couple whose relationship seems all the more strained due to Kirsten’s failure to fully commit to Rosa (a bitter ex-husband and distant son add to the burden).

Changing tides mark the unexpected arrival of a younger lesbian couple on the lake.  After an initial sore encounter with Rosa (over a stolen fish), dancer Evi (Lea Draeger) and veterinary student Olivia (Constanze Wächter) are welcomed into the couple’s lakeside home.

As the two couples become more acquainted (over wine, weed and synchronised yoga), each woman becomes all too aware that there are plenty more fish in the sea.  As darkness falls and loyalties wane, the pressure mounts, so much so that it becomes unclear whether murder or an ménage à quatre is on the cards.

Woman’s Lake is undoubtedly an interesting film with a not-too-original, yet promising plot.

The most memorable features of the film include an array of breathtaking landscape shots (this is German scenery porn), attentiveness to the detail of an uncommon career (fisherwoman) and a talented ensemble of actors.

Long takes, sparse dialogue and an abundance of montage make for a one-of-a-kind feel, yet a lack of back-story, a conflicting score and a plethora of all-too-convenient plot twists may have your judgment wavering throughout the film.  While it was refreshing to witness lively encounters between the young and the more mature couples, at times, you could easily mistake the foursome for mothers and daughters.

One could compare watching Woman’s Lake to taking a fishing trip.  If you’re perched on your boat waiting for the perfect catch, this film may not truly satisfy your expectations.

On the other hand, if you’re wading the lake, trawling for mere pleasure, you’ll be hooked by the vast sky, rippling water and quiet German surroundings of this uniquely picturesque film.  The pleasing glimpses of rural life and heavy ambience in Woman’s Lake offer a scenic detour off the beaten track of lesbian cinema.