Slamdance Film Festival 2020: Lovemobil

Along the dark forest roads of a German highway, love caravans line the road. They emanate lust, with the siren call of their neon glow, cheap strung lights providing ornament to a sad occupation. The women get stuck. They have come from all over and pay each day for use of the vehicle. Men, mostly from the automobile manufacturer down the road, stop in and demand fetishizes, pay their price for fleeting moments with the girls. We spend the documentary sitting in with the sex workers. We wait with them for the next John to come. It is interminable. Freedom becomes a less likely option than entrapment. Director Elke Margarete Lehrenkrauss shows saintly patience and caring observation of the women, able to find their humanity behind the facade of what is for sale. Along those ethereal forest roads, the women sit, like hunting traps, waiting for the next person, until one woman is murdered, and they must contend with the dangerous realities of the work.

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Lovemobil. Dir. Elke Margarete Lehrenkrauss.

The most stunning and personal moments come when we are just sitting with the girls. When we see the in-between moments of their days. This is what lived-in documentary filmmaking is about. We get to be bored with them. To surrender to their boredom. To feel the despair and our own pity for their suffering. The stories are delivered across two lines. While there may be several girls along the highway, the documentary sits with two of them who provide the most interesting stories.

Our common elements become an older lady, who has retired from the work to sell the use of her caravan. We get the briefest of glimpses of the deals made, the moments with their customers. But Lovemobil is so rarely tawdry or interested in that aspect. It prefers the grim realities of the moment. And that functionally works out for a better effect. When the worst possible outcome happens, we feel deeply, seated with the girls in fear and panic. The black woman working the caravan tries to escape the work; she is not wanted for her skin color at the local club. Our other subject must take a pilgrimage back home to see her sister and tell her that for years she has lied about the reality of her work.

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Lovemobil. Dir. Elke Margarete Lehrenkrauss.

There is real pleasure in Lovemobil. It does not revel in any of the glamors of prostitution, nor does it ever condemn the women outright. Instead, it seeks to understand them and to live with them in it. It seeks the reality of the thing and shoots that. When a religious man comes by to lecture the women on their choices, it shows that the women may have their own faith, and they are not so different from the man riding his bicycle along the same road thinking about Jesus, as they say, they have just chosen the oldest profession in the world.


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