Yella (2008)




Critic Consensus: Chilly and haunting, Yella's atmosphere gets under the skin.

Movie Info

Narrowly escaping her volatile ex-husband, Yella flees her small hometown in former East Germany for a new life in the West. She finds a promising job with Philipp, a handsome business executive with whom an unlikely romance soon blossoms. But just as Yella seems poised to realize her dreams, she finds herself haunted by buried truths that threaten to destroy her newfound happiness.

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Romance, Art House & International, Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By: Simone Baer, Christian Petzold
In Theaters:
On DVD: Mar 31, 2009
The Cinema Guild



as Yella Fichte

as Yella's Father

as Schmitt-Ott

as Dr. Gunthen

as Friedrich's Advocate

as Prietzel

as Barbara Gunthen

as Dr. Gunthen's Daught...

as Dr. Fritz

as Sprenger

as Philipp

as Receptionist

as Bailiff

as Cashier
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Critic Reviews for Yella

All Critics (53) | Top Critics (15)

This unusual film has all the appearance of simply being a well-done drama, but there is considerably more on writer-director Christian Petzold's mind.

Full Review… | September 19, 2008
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

[A] tightly controlled metaphysical horror movie.

Full Review… | September 18, 2008
L.A. Weekly
Top Critic

This crisply made thriller begins as a harrowing tale of a young German woman stalked by her deranged ex-husband, but quickly turns into an investigation of the murkier depths of capitalism.

Full Review… | September 5, 2008
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Strikes a perfect balance between corporate intrigue and metaphysical mystery; his 2007 drama is filled with suspense but ends in delicious ambiguity.

Full Review… | August 1, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Yella is a reserved young woman with unrevealed depths of intelligence, larceny and passion. Their gradual revelation makes this more than an ordinary thriller, in great part because of the performance of Nina Hoss in the title role.

Full Review… | August 1, 2008
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

The German offering Yella begins with an utterly gripping first 15 minutes, follows with a passable drama and ends with a big disappointment.

Full Review… | July 31, 2008
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Yella


[font=Georgia][size=3]"Yella," from German writer/director [/size][size=3][b]Christian Petzold,[/b] [/size][size=3]is one of the most unusual and unique films I've ever seen. It has an aesthetic that really is one of a kind. Even the title is strange. The whole look and feel were so new, that it was revitalizing, like a new cinematic approach was being born.[/size][/font]


[font=Georgia][size=3]The story also had some fascinating and innovative dimensions that knocked my socks off. But unfortunately the story also had some hackneyed qualities, especially the ridiculously cliche ending. It's amazing to me that a ferociously innovative story would end on such a clumsily cliche note. I also felt bored through quite a number of passages. Tighter editing would have helped.[/size][/font]

[font=Georgia][size=3]It was sad to me that a film with some truly masterpiece moments also was bogged down with some long-winded and repetitious sequences. But how often do you see a film that even has one masterpiece moment? "Yella" had about 10. [/size][/font]


[font=Georgia][size=3]"Yella" also has the spine-tingling actress [b]Nina Hoss[/b]. Wow, where did this woman come from? She's almost as spectacular as Asia Argento, that other European lioness of film acting today. While ultimately I would put Argento ahead of Hoss, there's something Hoss has that Argento lacks. That's an intellectual consciousness. Argento is pure instinct. Hoss is instinct harnessed by mind. She knows what she's doing in a way that gave me shivers.[/size][/font]

[font=Georgia][size=3]Hoss most definitely is an actress to watch, and Petzold is a major filmmaker bursting forth with cinematic ideas. I'm thrilled that I got the opportunity to see one of his films, and I wait with bated breath to see what he does next.[/size][/font]
[font=Georgia][size=3]The storyline is difficult to talk about without giving away the twist ending, which I'm loath to do in a review. I'll just say that the film is a meditation on the struggles of the East Germans to join the capitalist order. That's at least what I believe it is mostly concerned with. I'm not absolutely sure the characters are from the east, because the film doesn't make it absolutely clear. But I'm pretty sure they are. [/size][/font]
[font=Georgia][size=3]At the center of the film is a woman named Yella. I've never heard of that name before. Is it a common German name? It sounded almost Gypsy to me. Or a Russian nickname. In any case, this woman named Yella (played by Hoss) is struggling to establish herself as an accountant, and jobs appear to be very hard to come by. [/size][/font]
[font=Georgia][size=3]Her job search has an almost Alice in Wonderland quality to it. She's lost in a world beyond the looking glass, so foreign are the ways of business to her. But the film has no comic dimension. Her struggles are depicted brutally. It's a painful film, especially given Hoss's remarkable ability to make you identify with her character. When she experiences heartbreak, it's truly excruciating to watch. And she gets it in spades.[/size][/font]

Bill D 2007
William Dunmyer

Super Reviewer


Even with an obvious conclusion, "Yella" is still a compelling movie, simply told, with a quietly strong performance from Nina Hoss as the title character, a young woman seeking to make a new start for herself in Hannover. First, she returns to her hometown for a night to get a change of clothes and to tell her father(Christian Redl) that she got a job and a place to stay. But the past will not leave her alone in the person of Ben(Hinnerk Schonemann), her very estanged husband and a failed businessman, who follows her around before offering her a ride to the train station the following morning. Seeing no harm, wishing to be polite and get it over with, Yella accepts. That turns out to be a huge mistake as he berates her, does not let her get out of the car and even tries to kill them both by driving over the side of a bridge. She survives to go to Hannover, a journey that will encapsulate all the fears and hopes of her new life.

Walter M.

Super Reviewer


not to be confused with the 50s classic "Old Yella", this movie purposely feels somewhat like a dream (or nightmare), where everything seems a bit out of balance. The acting is fine but I guessed the ending about 15 minutes into the film---I have seen similar movies recently with the same storyline and 'surprise ending'. Still a decent watch...

alan jay

Super Reviewer

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