For, Oct. 25, 2013

"The Wall," just released on DVD, is an Austrian film, yet another cinematic look at a dystopian future. But if you're looking for something akin to "I Am Legend" or "The Road" or "The Book of Eli," look elsewhere.

"The Wall" is an artful, thoughtful, enigmatic tale that asks more questions than it answers, and unspools with an almost literary feel, which is in keeping with its roots; the film is adapted from an allegorical 1962 novel by Austrian author Marlen Haushofer. It also has a plot that on the surface resembles Stephen King's "The Dome," but, of course, this one came first.

Martina Gedeck stars as an unnamed woman who goes on vacation to a remote cabin in the Austrian Alps with an older couple. The couple decides to walk into a nearby town, leaving their car. But they never return. When the woman follows the road to find her friends, she bumps into an invisible wall. Eventually, she comes to believe that some kind of holocaust has killed everyone else, leaving her stranded alone in the remote wilderness to deal with the elements and battle the changes in season as she learns to live and survive off the land, and as she befriends the animals around her, in particular a dog, and later a cat, or risk going mad with loneliness.

Some of the dialogue is in German with English subtitles but most of it consists of an English-language voice-over narration, read as the woman keeps a journal of her experiences.

Gedeck is terrific, underplaying the role with touching sincerity, but gradually becoming rougher, which makes her fearful that she is becoming more feral as she struggles to survive.

Directed with care by Julian Polsler, "The Wall" is a very affecting film, alternately warm and touching, and chilling and eerie. It's lyrical and poetic, freaky and chilling. And it's not to be missed.