Human Factors

Human Factors – a splintered story with little connectivity


Human Factors is showing at Sundance London on the 1st of August, book tickets here.

Picture this: a middle-class family escape to their holiday home for some rest and relaxation, only for a break-in to interrupt their idyllic retreat. However, only the mother sees this break-in, and it’s down to the family to compare their perspectives, each contradicting one another. Was there really a break-in? If that sounds quite riveting, perhaps in a similar vein to Michael Haneke’s Cache, then you clearly held the hope I did for Human Factors; therefore, imagine my disappointment when Ronny Trocker transforms a captivating opening into a disappointingly generic family drama.

Jan (Mark Waschke) and his wife, Nina (Sabine Timoteo), have a rocky relationship, partially due to the emotional cowardice of Jan and the implied boredom of Nina. Then there are the children, Emma (Jule Hermann) and Max (Wanja Valentin Kube). Emma is a cookie-cutter angsty teen, stealing cigarettes and staying out way too late, while Max’s singular defining trait is his ownership of a pet rat. Aside from that, he’s essentially a cardboard cutout of a child they wheel out for dramatic purposes when necessary. 


Human Factors seems largely uninterested in engaging with its creative premise resulting in a poor attempt to emulate the success of Force Majeure. If the aim was to expose the weak core of this family, Human Factors instead splinters its story into strands that have little connection to one another. Sadly the result is a film lacking any impact; its potential slowly withered away. Perhaps, Trocker was attempting to explore the inherent subjectiveness of perspective. For example, Max sees Jan’s actions alternatively to Jan seeing his own. But if that were the case, it isn’t touched upon enough to make a compelling argument to defend the film. Or maybe a case of mismarketing has upended Human Factors chances at a fair critical assessment as it promised a premise that it seemingly has no interest in delivering. There is always a margin for error with perspectives – it seems Trocker’s margin is far greater than I was expecting. 

Rating: 2 out of 5.


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