Horst in Translation (f[email protected])
"Sommer '04" or "Sommer '04 an der Schlei" is a German 90-minute movie from 2006, so this one had its 10th anniversary last year. The director is Stefan Krohmer and the screenplay is by Daniel Nocke and both are prolific small screen filmmakers, so here we have the rare occasion of seeing a big screen film by these two that have worked together on quite a few occasions. The main reason for this film being somewhat known is probably lead actress Martina Gedeck and this movie here is actually from the very same year when she starred in her most known work "Das Leben der Anderen", so great year for her, even if this summer movie did not really contribute too much to that. It is all about the relationships in here. People falling in and out of love and there is also a bit of a Lolita aspect to the film. The latter is also the crucial aspect here in how well you will like this movie. I personally wasn't impressed by Svea Lohde unfortunately. She occasionally acts in a solid manner from the physical performance, but other than that I think she wasn't memorable at all and a better casting decision could have helped the film a lot. Seeliger is also relatively forgettable I think and Davor's character does not get half the screen time and elaboration he deserved. And not just the one he deserved, but also the one Gedeck's character deserved as she is so close to him. As for the crucial scene in the last third of the movie on the boat, well.. it's personal taste how much you like it and how much it makes sense to you. For me, it was all a bit for the sake of it to be honest. And eventually, after Seeliger's character basically ditched Gedeck's already, then we see at the end that they are a couple a long time after and apparently also happy? Oh well this does not fit at all in terms of what we saw earlier. I think Gedeck is a pretty solid actress, but this film here just has too many weaknesses overall for her to make up for it and besides, she is not that memorable either and has given several superior performances in her career. This 1.5-hour movie is not a failure by any means, but you see from start to finish how it reeks of unfulfilled ambition, but it comes so short with every impact it is trying to make. I give it a thumbs-down. Not recommended.
"Summer '04" (2006 release from Germany; 97 min.) opens with two teenagers returning from a bike trip in the countryside. We learn that it is 15 yr. old Nils and his "girlfriend" Livia, all of 12 yrs. old. Livia is staying with Nils and his parents, Andre and Miriam. The next day, when they go out sailing, Nils decides to come home early, and instead Livia is going sailing with Bill, a thirty-something former sports manager in the US who has recently returned to Germany. What exactly is the nature of the relationship between Livia and Bill? or for that matter between Livia and Nils? At this point we are just 10-15 min. into the movie but to tell you more would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.Couple of comments: first, the utter laisser-faire attitude of the family towards a potential friendship or relationship between 30-something Bill and 12 yr. old Livia is outright shocking. Here is Nils, the supposed boyfriend who couldn't care less what Livia does or doesn't do, with or without Bill, showing no concern or jealousy, I mean none. His standard response to any and all gentle questions from his mom or dad is: "None of your business!". Really? Is this a portrayal of real life mores in contemporary Germany, or is this some fantasy in the writer's mind? Second, assuming you can overcome the first hurdle I just described, the movie is actually quite good, in particular as the 'plot' starts to thicken. It kept me guessing as to what direction all of this would be going into. The movie's Big Twist comes just over an hour into it, and one that I truly did not see coming at all. It sets up what I had expected to be a riveting last 30 min. and I still wasn't sure how it would all end. I'm obviously not going to spoil the ending. All I will say is that it came as a huge letdown to me (and hence I cannot rate this film higher than 6/10).I was browsing the foreign film section at my local library the other day in pursuit of hopefully something good to watch. Didn't really know much about the movie and took a flier on it. It worked out okay but not great. About the best thing I can say is that it kept my interest as the movie unfolded. Strictly for foreign movie aficionados.
A thing that I have recently noticed more and more is how well the acting in the newer German cinema is. In "Sommer '04" by director Stefan Krohmer and writer Daniel Nocke it is definitely Martina Gedeck who stands out. Her character Miriam is very self-confident, but still natural and believable. Her decisions often seem volatile, which not only applies for her, but also for the other female main character Livia (played by young talent Svea Lohde). Livia is the center of the story that unveils and when she eventually dies (very surprisingly), I definitely was stunned by the triviality that it happened with. The only thing not believable was the ending. Maybe screenwriter Daniel Nocke felt the need to add a big final twist to his otherwise very good script, but it did more harm than it did good. But this is outweighed by the strong sides of this film. All characters are very realistic, and although I didn't really sympathize with anyone of them, it seemed to me as if I knew every one of them.
Currently playing at the 2007 German Film Festival in Apr 2007 in Australia Summer 04 was the first of about 5 German films I will see in the 10 day festival in Melbourne. http://www.goethe.de/ins/au/lp/prj/ff07/enindex.htmMost festivals one film will be the standout. With 2 down and 3 or 4 to go I think this is the one.Really enjoyed all the main performances, namely Martina Gedeck as a late 30's, early 40's woman, the very handsome mid 30s Bill (Robert Seeliger) and the stunning looking Svea Lohde who plays a 12 year old girl in this movie but whose character in some ways is more mature, self assured and worldly. With the relaxed moral views of the parents in this movie and the early sexual maturity portrayed here and accepted by the parents especially the Dad it's hard to say whether she's Lolita-like or not. Development wise she looks the age of the character and yet her outlook is more like someone in their later teens. I consider myself very liberal but on age of consent issues this freedom could raise an eyebrow or two. I've never really understood fully the concept of complete personal freedom. Of course here in Australia the age of consent is still 16. In Europe perhaps it's lower?But very nice locations, interesting story, the gentle pace of summer, some sizzling sex scenes and the way the movie pans out in the finish. A very satisfying film that shows a clean pair of heels to most French films that are very good at this genre. Put it this way, Martina's character could have been played by Charlotte Rampling if this was a French movie and Charlotte was about 40 at the time. But this is to take nothing away from Martina's performance.I'll be looking for more work from these main actors. And I wonder how the other Australian reviewer managed to review this movie back in 2006. Especially how or where he got to see the movie or obtain the DVD. Perhaps the Melbourne 2006 Film Festival. Must keep my eye out for any German entries in this in the Jul 2007 one.