Probably the most succinct summary of the movie is given by its director Thomas Durchschlag, who also provided the script. When he talked about it at the Max-Ophüls Film Festival here in Germany, he stated that after he was confronted with the subject of the borderline personality disorder, he tried to find out what would motivate somebody to constantly hurt himself; the movie represented his answer to this question.
Paradoxical as this may sound, however, an actual answer is not given in the course of the movie. Instead, what we get is a very intelligent and subtle approach to this problem, hinting at a lot of possible answers, but eventually leaving us to form our own opinion.
The main character is a student called Maria, who suffers from said personality disorder. Quoting the author again, the fascinating fact about borderline patients is that they experience the same feelings of doubt and self-hatred everybody knows at one time or another - the difference being that for them, it just won't go away. Still, to a certain extent, it's very easy to relate to Maria's actions as she searches for a meaning in her life and is unable to find one.
The main device for Maria to escape her feelings is by replacing them with pain, which she inflicts upon herself in so many different ways that it's not easy to even spot them all. Physical pain is the most obvious, e.g. when she cuts herself with a razor blade, but emotional abuse occurs much more frequently: she has various one-night stands with complete strangers, illustrating how her feeling of self-worth is near to nonexistent. There are nights of drinking and clubbing, without meaning nor enjoyment in them. There's the way she acts when someone tries to comfort her, pushing these attempts away without acknowledging that this is a signal of someone caring for her.
But then, there are also happy moments. The main storyline starts to unroll when she meets Jan, a slightly clumsy (but very sweet and caring) student who is studying to be a veterinary. At first, she doesn't want to get involved with him, but eventually gives in and, for the first time in her life, experiences warmth and a healthy relationship. They have a wonderful time during a weekend at the beach, and Maria tries to get a grip on her life by abandoning her old ways. Sadly, but inevitably, she finds out that this is not so easy. Things start slipping, for example when she stops seeing her therapist since, as she claims, "Jan will be looking out for me instead". It gets worse when Jan leaves for one week to visit a scientist camp site in the Netherlands to study chimpanzee behaviour - even with the help of her close friend Sarah, Maria is not able to avoid getting sucked into her old self-destructive patterns again. The movie goes on, but I will not comment on the ending: I don't think I can do it without spoiling most of you. Try and get hold of the movie instead.
In spite of the excellent script (even more impressing when considering that all the director has done before is a couple of short movies), I don't think the movie would have worked without its superb acting, especially from main actress Lavinia Wilson who manages an absolutely convincing portrayal of Maria and her various problems. This is not to say that the other performances aren't good, but this one really stands out. I hope we'll get to see more of her in the future.
So, are there any downsides to this movie at all? As you probably noticed, I didn't really think so, but there are a few things people might object to. First of all, there are a lot of very graphic scenes in the movie, which normally shouldn't be a problem for the target audience, but you never can tell. Secondly, the movie can be quite depressing to watch. Of course, this is subjective, and I don't think it detracts from the quality of the movie in any case, but it might put people off nevertheless. Thirdly, most (that is to say, all) of the actors are not widely known yet, so you have to trust reviews like this one to decide whether seeing the movie is worth your while.
Apart from these concerns, I really can't think of anything else to say against the movie, but speaking of subjective: Since I am from around where the movie was produced, I quite enjoyed the way people talked. If you don't know the speech patterns of Essen or the Ruhr Basin in general, you might not even notice, but for me, listening to these people was a very satisfying experience. Oh well, I just wanted to mention it.
In conclusion, this movie was one of the best I have seen at the festival. I definitely recommend seeing it for yourselves if you get the chance to, you won't regret it.