Like her marriage to Dieter, the mansion that Margot Menliff has inherited from her wealthy uncle Gottfried was once magnificent but has fallen into disrepair through neglect. The drive from the city long, it is dark before they arrive, and there is no electricity, forcing them to explore the rooms by candlelight, disturbing the long-dormant dust which dances in the light.
He downstairs in the wine cellar, occupied by bats, she upstairs in the dining room, once grand and now evoking nostalgia of happier times, despite his apprehension they stay the night, Margot rising with the dawn as she did as a child, each of them finding their determination in the morning, she to leave her husband and stay in the house forever, Dieter to never let her go…
Director Gregor Grause approaching he completion of filming of the story of Margot and Dieter with only a few pickup shots to go, the principal cast are gathered for the wrap party before being released, his performers Lilith Tarenbach and Klaus Moltke very different from the characters they play, but his creative partner Eva Ziehnagel is hesitant, about the finale which she feels makes no sense, about the carefree attitude of Gregor who believes his legend is ascending towards immortality on a bacchanal of wine and drugs.
Directed by Kevin Kopacka from a script co-written with Lili Villányi, Dawn Breaks Behind the Eyes cares not one whit how or even if it is understood or interpreted, spiralling inwards as the groove on a record, ebbing and flowing as the groups break off from the main party to quiet rooms of reflection and confrontation, expressing doubts, hopes, fears and weaknesses.
A Gothic melodrama of uninhibited excess and ambition, the reserve of the resentful characters on camera masks the performers beneath; all are part of a bitter marriage of art, necessity and compromise of the motion picture which is shot like a forgotten European arthouse masterpiece of the seventies struggling to breach the surface to breathe yet refusing to reach for help, the players complicit in the drama and their fate.
The promise of daybreak bringing no respite to the artists who have written the story of their lives and then repeated it over and again, Jeff Wilbusch the doomed director, Anna Platen his frustrated muse and Frederik von Lüttichau and Luisa Taraz his lead actors slipping through spotlight and starlight yet always destined for the shadows beyond the light of the fire, Dawn Breaks Behind the Eyes is impenetrable yet oddly mesmerising.