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"A powerful and revelatory achievement: Wollner’s complex, artfully crafted, sometimes wilfully perplexing film delves boldly into questions of memory, gender, identity and indeed film language itself."
Screen Daily (US), 03/2020

"Berlin's Hidden Gem."
Hollywood Reporter (US), 02/2020

"A disturbing vision of the fracturing effects of technology on human life"
New Films/ New Directors (US), 03/2020

"Artificial intelligence has never felt as brutalising as it does in this second feature by Austrian filmmaker Sandra Wollner. [...] The greatest thing we must fear from AI is ourselves."
Sight & Sound (UK), 03/2020

"An eerie, metaphysical exploration of the identities we create for ourselves."
Variety (US), 02/2020

"Austria’s new voice for the nexus between desire and the abyss, fear and mystery, feeling and emptiness is Sandra Wollner. In her provocative second feature film she develops the plot from a complex basic constellation and reconstructs families that never existed. And so the machine becomes a mirror of human emotion, and the film a captivating ladder into virtual and psychological realities."
Berlinale Program (DE), 02/2020

"A slow, silent punch to the stomach."
tuttotek (IT), 11/2020

"The Trouble with Being Born" is an eerie, an unpleasant, a disturbing film that is not over with the last image. "What have I just seen?"
is a question you won’t be able to shake off any time soon."
taz (DE), 02/2020

"A fabulous piece of cinema about desires and their repression, about provocation and guilt."
Wiener Zeitung (AT), 02/2020

"This film - the highlight of the Encounters Competition - shows a director, who (with only her second feature film) enters a much bolder territory than most German-speaking directors are able to. "
Der Spiegel (DE), 02/2020

"Image vs. implication; human vs. non-human; real vs. unreal. If “The Trouble With Being Born” lives anywhere, it is in a house in a forest on the deepest, most sunless lower slopes of the uncanny valley. [...] The director joins the pantheon of uncompromisingly intellectual Austrian formalists like Ulrich Seidl and Michael Haneke. But in terms of daring, Wollner may even outstrip her countrymen: Her film’s eerie, glassy surface conceals deep cuts into ontology, memory, identity and our increasingly boundary-obliterating relationship to tech."
Variety (US), 02/2020

"Wollner and editor Hannes Bruun craft fascinating excursions into unreliable memory, where it's not always certain whether events are playing out in reality or a waking electric dream."
ABC (AU), 12/2020

"A film about the absent, about hidden longings and forbidden desires."
Der Tagesspiegel (DE), 02/2020

"Sandra Wollner’s ability to work with time and space, with image and sound, is simply extraordinary. If she continues on this level, one day the Berlinale will be proud to say that they discovered a new star of world cinema."
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE), 02/2020

"A small sensation: a brave, polarising, blend of drama, horror, science-fiction and psychological thriller – that simply cannot be pinned down to one genre. With incredible elegance, the film shows us what we want to reject – in a way we haven’t seen for a very long time ."
Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE), 02/2020

"Flickering, electric, disturbing." (DE), 03/2020

"Trouble With Being Born" is a remarkable futuristic update to the myth of Frankenstein, taking place in a hypertechnological world, where programming crosses the line between life and death."
Cineuropa 02/2020

"With its reflections on the human and the human-like, on memory and identity, power and abuse, "The Trouble with being born" follows works such as "A.I.", "Ex Machina" or even "Westworld", and once again the true, the deeper horror does not come from the machine, but from the human. The way Sandra Wollner tells of this horror, so cold and gripping at the same time, makes her film a masterpiece."
epd Film (DE), 03/2020

"Behind cold appearances, "The Trouble With Being Born" is heartbreaking. Its success and ambition are matched only by the gigantic size of its characters' solitudes."
Le Polyester (FR), 02/2020

"You have rarely seen anything like this in the cinema. "The Trouble With Being Born" is a film about paedophilia, incest, missing and accidental children, pain that has never been overcome, the difficulty of letting go, the volatility and interchangeability of memories and human hybris - and yet about none of this. Sandra Wollner elevates irritation to a principle, but does so in a seductive way." arteshock (DE), 02/2020

"A reflection on the reproducibility of emotions and sexual identities. The gaze is rigorous, the atmospheres shadowy, the situations disturbing, a science fiction that shows us the abyss of our potential future."
FilmTV (IT), 03/2020

"This anti-Pinocchio, as defined by the brilliant filmmaker, is the new Prometheus of neoliberalism."
Fotogramas (SP), 09/2020

"The Trouble with Being Born" is an aesthetically beautiful, formalist film that raises troubling issues about identity, the nature of a "self" and meaning of memory."
Strasbourg European Fantastic Film Festival (FR), 09/2020

"Her film essay succeeds in leading the audience onto the same philosophical slippery slope as her protagonists, since the filmgoer also puts meaning into a character which the latter does not have. A quiet film with a calm gesture that positions a director with high aspirations in the film landscape."
oe24 (AT), 10/2020

"A layered and complex work that stimulates reflection even beyond mere vision."
Darkside Cinema (IT), 11/2020

"The Trouble With Being Born" is about memory, loss and loneliness and our inability to cope with it."
El Contraplano (ES), 09/2020

"Controversial, unsettling and intelligent Science-Fiction. "The Trouble with being born" will haunt you."
Switch (AU), 11/2020

"With her production, Sandra Wollner balances on the limits of humanity, creating a vision that is either frighteningly inhuman or - even more terrifying - more human than one would like to admit. Wollner does not present a genre horror, but suggests elements that make the brain create it itself. It's worth getting caught up in it."
Filmawka (PL), 11/2020

"The film is the dazzling second work of the Austrian Sandra Wollner, a story of false childhoods, false bodies, invented yet close ties, improper belonging, apparent affections ... Dense stuff, with a strange viscosity, intimate and impersonal at the same time. [...] Childhood remains the prism that swallows up all the false light diffused on the scene by adults and returns it as a frosted, decomposed and almost abstract image. But what is most striking in Wollner's cinema is the borderline sensuality, suspended over the present as if it were a hypothesis suffering the shame of the past, all written on the confusing interweaving of images, sounds, real and imaginary layers. Her cinema is apparently quiet, flat, but profoundly restless and essentially disturbing."
Duels (IT), 11/2020

"A meditation on memory, loss, identity and desire."
Filmink (AU), 11/2020

"Austrian filmmaker Sandra Wollner’s challenging second feature is intelligent and thoughtful, legitimately subversive and transgressive, conceptually ambitious, but most of all, devastatingly sad. [...] It is beautifully crafted along cool, formal lines, featuring exquisite naturalistic performances and sublime cinematography. It is rigorous, thoughtful, deeply heartfelt, and truly audacious."
ABC Radio (AU), 11/2020

"Austrian director Sandra Wollner’s disturbing, unsentimental vision of the fracturing effects of technology on human life and memory is both compassionate and unsparing, and vivid in its hard-to-shake imagery."
Charles Barfield, The Playlist (US), 11/2020

"Rarely has an android-human relationship been so terribly lonely. Every conversation between Georg and Elli or Anna and Emil is a monologue that becomes more hollow with each repetition. [...] In every image that promises to reveal something, something invisible also seems to be hidden. In the repeated camera movements, the gaze, which is itself quite essential, reveals itself as the actual instance of "creepiness". Genres and narrative forms are unbounded: Techno-paedophilia, revenant narrative, dystopia, AI and loss drama flow together in "The Trouble with Being Born" without ever getting at home in the field of science fiction. Instead, the story can be located in a recognisable present or near-future. Not only is the android similar to humans, but the reality of the film is also close to our own. [...] Memory proves to be the real driving force behind the action. Every moment is a recall of the last image: a day at the beach, a shared song. Of course, a shared present cannot take place in this ghost reality, also because unlike in the classic narrative of artificial humans - from "Pinocchio" to "A.I." to "Ex Machina" - there is no "species leap" into a shared humanity that would reorder the relationships. When the android Elli sets off into the forest one night following the plot of his real-life role model, it is only ostensibly a breakout. It simply ends up in the next memory loop."
Stadtrevue (DE), 01/2021

"That the possibility of loss is omnipresent and exclusively a human problem is described by this film: Not the one who does not carry the disadvantage of being born in the first place can take the burden of the loss of a born one from the people. It remains a human problem that must be solved by man."
Filmmassiv (DE), 01/2020

"A powerful film which will have your skin crawling and stomach churning at every bend."
Scenestr (AU), 11/2020

"The film calls to mind Cronenberg and Kubrick in its formidable intelligence, its elegant and expressive visual design, and its willingness to court accusations of inhumanity in exploring what it means to be human."
Filmmaker Magazine (US), 12/2020

"Sandra Wollner gives an oppressive and gripping account of what the digital age is doing to us humans."
ZIB 1 ORF (AT), 06/2021

"After this film, you no longer know what you should be more afraid of: people or machines."
Der Spiegel (DE), 11/2021

"An aseptic, nihilistic tale that explores the traumas, forbidden desires and frustrations hidden in human beings."
E Cartelara (ES), 02/2021

"The trouble with being born" is maximally productive disturbance, an audiovisual event, austere, shimmering, open in all directions. It is not technology, embodied by Ellie, that is perverted, but the human being who longs for reinactments, for a life in fiction. "
epd Film (DE), 03/2021

Sandra Wollner's second feature-length film "The Trouble With Being Born" is one great disturbance: in subtly sensual glances and snatches of dialogue against a backdrop of breathtaking visual power and a dark maelstrom of sound, she leads her audience into a state of unease in all its non-ambiguity and with great trepidation.
Kleine Zeitung (AT), 06/2021

"With "The Trouble with Being Born", the Austrian Sandra Wollner has succeeded in making one of the most interesting, disturbing and stirring films in a long time."
Kleine Zeitung (AT), 06/2021

"It is a rich treasure that Wollner lifts by doing exactly the opposite of the mainstream: she does not tell to the last detail, with grandiose omission she gives space to think. She does not promote quick, superficial amusement, but works with slowly unfolding irritation. [...] A truly remarkable film, unparalleled in the arthouse offerings of recent years."
OÖ Nachrichten (AT), 06/2021

"Exceptionally complex and challenging science fiction drama whose formally rigorous and stylistically assured production poses questions about the nature of being human in the face of dwindling boundaries with machines. Without preconceived judgements, the film is essentially about the universal search for a place in the world."
Filmdienst (DE), 07/2021

"The Trouble with Being Born" is a masterful study of trauma, grief, memory, loneliness and the nature of human (and non-human) relationships. Breathtaking in its complexity and vision, the film explores its disturbing subject matter in a detached (perhaps dissociative) formalistic style, reminiscent of Michael Haneke, Wollner's older compatriot."
Cambridge BJPsych Bulletin (UK), 06/2021

"A fascinating dystopia that intertwines universal questions about loneliness and memories and resonates more than impressively."
Falter (AT), 06/2021

"With incredibly delicate as well as oppressive images, careful and expressive camera work as well as a profound screenplay, The Trouble with Being Born shapes itself into a film that, under the guise of a sci-fi drama, definitely has the makings of a nerve-wracking horror film." (DE), 09/2021

"The small, terrible injuries that this film will inflict on you are carefully made invisible again and again with all-purpose glue and a cotton swab. Then it goes on and on. The life that you retell, that you remember from people's memories, sometimes remains fragmentary and therefore digs itself in all the deeper. Your linguistic memory overflows. Again and again you swim through these piles of broken pieces, and the gruesome crimes that are touched upon continue into the present. And you can still hear the children crying in the darkest rumble of thunder. What a tremendous motion picture, what a rumbling gift. In this decade of particularly artistic horror films, certainly one of the most incomprehensible and most beautiful. Each image carefully composed. Every ray of light very carefully and beautifully. In rich colours, crackling vividly.
A beautiful nightmare."
Deadline (DE), 09/2021

"Rather than veer into sensationalism, Wollner’s film maintains a coolly dystopian view throughout, confronting us with a nihilistic (albeit inarguably realistic) world where science, regardless of how sophisticated, can never transcend the depravity of its creators."
New York Times (US), 12/2021