Geborgtes Weiss - Valmir (Florist Bajgora), Marta (Susanne Wolff), Nathan (Elia Gezer) ©WDR/arte/Martin Rottenkolber

The forest stands still, a boardwalk leads through the swamps in this no man’s land of a scene. The house at the edge of the forest is showing its age, a fairytale house with a worn interior that the essayist Roland (Ulrich Matthes) inherited. As an old-left bourgeois, he has plenty of time to think about the injustice in the world, because he only has to go to the editorial office very occasionally. Otherwise he likes to listen to classical music when he’s not looking out the window to see if Marta (Susanne Wolff) and her son Nathan (Elia Gezer) are coming home.

It starts with Marta and Nathan walking through a hardware store and you immediately know something is wrong here. They need a drain pipe, the bathroom sink is broken. Suddenly Nathan is swallowed up by the face of the earth. Marta’s initially innocent calls, the growing concern, then panic, her wandering between the shelves, this could start a bad crime story, but it’s only a brief shock. Director Sebastian Ko – graduate of the Film University Babelsberg, two feature films, some “crime scenes” since 2015 – and cameraman Andreas Köhler create a latently threatening atmosphere. The thriller touch is there from the start.

Suddenly, a young man stands in front of the mother, with Nathan at his side. He soon shows up in the house at the edge of the forest, offers to renovate the bathroom and nestles into the life of the nuclear family. It’s Valmir, a migrant worker from Albania, who’s becoming increasingly abusive, while Marta gets caught up in contradictions.

The intervention of a stranger who throws an ideal world out of joint, which turns out to have never been intact: a classic plot that always makes sense. The script was written by Karin Kaçi. “Borrowed White”: Even the title of the film indicates that a dark secret is being whitewashed. It has to do with Nathan, and of course it comes out in the end.

Jealousy, distrust, white lies, self-deception: Susanne Wolff (“Styx”) and Ulrich Matthes – both of whom are great theater actors – know how to embody two people with subtle permeability who are trapped in themselves and yet appear open-minded. They keep their composure while resentment, racism and selfishness emerge behind the facade of generous prosperity humanism.

In their own way, they protect their possessions at any price, violence breaks ground, a truth with murderous consequences. “Geborgtes Weiß” is genre cinema with political claims, sometimes staged a bit helplessly, sometimes a bit strained with a dramatic string soundtrack by Frans Bak. The debt is not paid in the end, no catharsis, after all.