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‘In the Aisles’ Review: A Store With Everything, Except Fulfillment

A shaggy-dog tale that treats crisscrossing forklift traffic as a sight worthy of the Blue Danube waltz, the German feature “In the Aisles” mostly takes place in an anonymous, highway-side megastore sized somewhere between a supermarket and a cost club. Its hero is a taciturn, newly hired stock handler, Christian (Franz Rogowski), whose hours are such that he rarely sees daylight. Unlike his fellow employees, he doesn’t drive home but waits for a bus on which he is consistently the sole passenger.

Christian’s nocturnes are brightened by Marion (Sandra Hüller), a sunny fellow employee drawn to his reserved demeanor. Suddenly, Christian is, in the words of his mentor, Bruno (Peter Furth), “forklifting like a lunatic” because he’s in love. But Marion is married, to an unseen husband said to treat her badly. Also, nothing in “In the Aisles” is straightforwardly resolved — certainly nothing as conventional as romance.

Directed by Thomas Stuber from a short story by Clemens Meyer, “In the Aisles” is divided into three main segments. Bruno’s chapter is the most suggestive of a wider world beyond the market walls. He reminisces about his life as a trucker before reunification.

The closest analogue to “In the Aisles” might be the bleakly comic films of the Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki (“The Other Side of Hope”), with which this movie shares a taste for deadpan sight gags and an interest in everyday working-class lives. But imagine a Kaurismaki with less humor and a slower pace, and you’ll have a sense of how singular yet insubstantial “In the Aisles” ultimately appears.

In the Aisles

Not Rated. In German, with English subtitles. Running time: 2 hours 5 minutes.

In the Aisles

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