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Director Tom Tykwer's debut feature is a fresh shot in the arm for recent indepen­dent German filmmaking. A macabre mix of the hyperreal laced with a dose of black humour, Deadly Maria is a psychodrama with all the repressed urgency of a Hitchcock thriller.

Maria is a woman whose cramped petit bour­geois world is dominated by a mean spirited husband and malicious bedridden father. Her life is a series of small humiliations and an ever growing obsession with her insect collection. Under pressure from the relentless, grinding banality of existence something has to give. One day the incredible happens: she falls in love. It's S'wonderful, it's S'marvellous, it's S'murder!

Adopting a hyper-realism reminiscent of a thoroughly German David Lynch and displaying a remarkably inventive eye, Tykwer places the world of this deadly Maria under a warped microscope turning her painfully dull life into a fascinating playground.

Tykwer's technical virtuosity both visually and in his self-scored music soundtrack give the film its edge, cutting a stylish line between fantasy and reality.

Can freckled-faced, straight-laced Maria really be as dangerous as she seems?