Thursday, 20 June 2013

Film #6: Barefoot (TBC)

Directed by: Til Schweiger
Released: 2005
Original title: Barfu
β (Barefoot)

This film, a charming romantic comedy, seems a little harder to get hold of than those I have reviewed so far – it doesn’t even seem to have been given an official certification for the UK. I wasn’t able to rent it, but it is available for purchase from some online retailers, and I think it’s worth the effort.

In the wrong hands, the humour in this film could have been seriously ill judged. Desperate not to turn to his rich family and take up a job with the stepfather he loathes, slacker Nick (Til Schweiger – yep, him again!) takes a job as a cleaner in a hospital for people with psychological problems. Sacked within a matter of hours and taking refuge in the toilets, he happens upon Leila (Johanna Wokalek), who is attempting to commit suicide. After he saves her life, she decides to follow him home. Unable to risk her trying to kill herself again, Nick takes her along to his brother’s wedding, unaware of just how little Leila actually knows about the world.

Comedies about any type of mental disorder can tread a thin line, but here the emphasis is on Leila’s total lack of knowledge about the real world and the contrast between her sweet, innocent nature and Nick's attitude to life in general and to women in particular. Yes, the story stretches credulity, and yes it's fairly obvious where the plot is heading, but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable, and the ending is really quite moving (which is saying something, coming from someone not exactly known for her love of romantic movies!)

Monday, 10 June 2013

Film #5: Mostly Martha (PG)

Released: 2001
Directed by: Sandra Nettelbeck
Original title: Bella Martha

I’ve found it difficult to fit in any films over the past few weeks so my blog writing has fallen slightly by the wayside. Thankfully a couple of quiet weekends have given me time to catch up on the films piling up next to the TV!

The plot of Mostly Martha is very familiar: after her sister dies, a brilliant chef has to confront new aspects of herself when she agrees to care for her young niece and try to find the girl’s natural father. If this were an American film, the protagonist would be kooky and clumsy and played by Kate Hudson or Katherine Heigl. Instead, Martha is spiky, socially inept and played by Martina Gedeck, probably best known for the Oscar-winning The Lives of Others

After Lina (Maxime Foerste) comes to live with her, tensions soon mount. Accustomed to diners falling over themselves to praise her food, Martha is left stumped when Lina refuses to eat. Help comes in the unlikeliest form – Mario, the Italian sous-chef who has recently joined the restaurant, and who Martha suspects of trying to usurp her in the kitchen. Resistant to his charms at first, she soon begins to rethink her feelings whilst also trying to keep control of her life.

This film made me smile rather than laugh out loud, and the ending is perhaps sewn up a little too neatly. But one thing it does do well is to observe human interactions, recognising that unlike in Hollywood, most people don’t articulate their feelings at every opportunity. And the cooking scenes will leave your mouth watering! All in all a very charming way to spend a couple of hours.