Director Ulrich Seidl's despairing, relentlessly downbeat social drama Import/Export unfolds against the backdrop of contemporary Europe. Olga (Ekateryna Rak) is a single mother struggling to raise her child with a very meager income… More Director Ulrich Seidl's despairing, relentlessly downbeat social drama Import/Export unfolds against the backdrop of contemporary Europe. Olga (Ekateryna Rak) is a single mother struggling to raise her child with a very meager income from her nursing job in a Ukrainian hospital. In desperation, she takes a job as a nude webcam model for an adult entertainment outfit that caters to German men, then quickly decides that life in her town is unbearable, and ultimately leaves her child with her mother, heading west to search for a better life. Meanwhile, in Austria, ne'er-do-well loser Pauli (Paul Hofmann) lives with his mother and his greasy-haired stepfather, Michael (Michael Thomas), to whom he's increasingly indebted. Pauli is training to be a security guard, but gets stripped, then relentlessly beaten and assaulted by a gang of youths. Eventually, Pauli and Michael hit the road together, delivering poker and gumball machines to locations across Eastern Europe, and Michael reveals a truly degenerate side, using his time on the road for a string of sexual encounters with different women. At the same time, Olga makes her way to Austria, enduring a series of occupations including those of au pair, maid, and eventually, charwoman in a geriatric hospital plagued by mistreatment of the elderly.
Consensus: A grim and disturbing vision from Ulrich Seidl, makes for an uncomfortable and uncompromising picture of life, that is anything but comfy and pedestrian.