Hot Docs 2016 Review: “What He Did” (2016) ★★★


Relationship. Love. Passionate affair and thirteen years of life together is a great subject for any novel. For the novel with a happy ending. However, what happens in real life with a novelist, Christian Kampmann and Jens Michael Schau is something that might not come even in our worst nightmare. But then again it is life where anything is possible.

Spending thirteen years of your life with someone you care about is great sign of an endless commitment and dedication. However, it’s dedication and jealousy of the two sides that brings an end to a love affair where one party had to lose his life. Unfortunately, this is what you will have to see in this well-crafted documentary film “What He Did” to learn what Jens Michael Schau did that made him to spend many years in prison.

He was just a young man with a name, Jens, when he first met a well-established and famous novelist, Christian Kampmann. Soon, the two men found themselves attracted to each other and eventually their unplanned affair turns into thirteen long years of their life. It’s Jens, who gladly, but with a great feeling of regret shares his story with the audience, while the relationship between an emerging playwright and an author is being dramatized in a play that you will see throughout film.

What He Did” leaves a strange impression as you watch it. It is certainly not made as many other documentary films, and its ability to narrate the story flawlessly is what will make you admire this film most. Understandably, the story itself can’t make you happy due to the murder that occurred back in 1988. However, you will enjoy watching it as a great piece of art you usually expect from a filmmaker.

In conclusion, there is not much we can learn from this story, as long as you will get the only point it has: “never kill your lover no matter how jealous you are. Because what kills him quickly usually eats you slowly from inside due to regrets that will never let you go”. Once you do that, you will never have to become a documentary subject to share you own horrible story of how once upon a time you took someone’s life for inexplicable reasons that should never exist in the first place.


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