The 2019 German Film Festival features an impressive line-up of acclaimed works, including 25 km/hr, which lives up to its billing as a “feel-good comedy”.
I will resist the temptation to kick off with a crack about German humour, firstly because it’s too obvious, secondly because 25 km/h really is quite a funny flick.
It’s one of those films in which adult siblings who have had no contact for years are thrown together by the death of the remaining parent. As is usual in this sub-genre, the siblings – in this case 40-something Georg (Bjarne Mädel) and older bro Christian (Lars Eidinger) – have unresolved differences stretching way back.
Georg has stayed in their small home village, looking after their father until the end. He is resentful of Christian, who left as soon as he was able and is now a successful businessman stationed in Singapore. Just how resentful is demonstrated, rather implausibly, in the introductory scenes, when Christian rolls up late to their father’s funeral, and is set upon by Georg as mourners at the graveside watch on open-mouthed.
The scrap is nothing that a few too many schnapps back at the family home won’t remedy. In a moment of drunken impulse prompted by Christian, the lads drag a couple of old mopeds out of storage and set off through the night on a road trip they’d planned as adolescents. The aim is to ride at 25 km/h through Germany, completing various tasks en route (eg: bedding women, eating every dish on the menu at a Greek restaurant, rolling a cow….you get the idea). The trip is to be completed by their pissing in the Baltic Sea.
Although the shape of the narrative is well familiar, there are some twists and surprises along the way. The boys’ trip also takes in some lovely scenery, including the Black Forest region. The real strength of the movie, though, is the performances of the leads.
Mädel and Eidinger play off each other with panache, combining great comedic timing with a capacity to bring poignancy to their characters and relationship when required. Both end up endearing themselves to the viewer as they gradually and at times painfully force each other to confront the uncomfortable personal truths they have long sought to rationalise away. Thus, they evolve as characters, re-connecting in the process.
25 km/h is an enjoyable and entertaining ride that offers plenty of light-hearted moments and a few that pluck at the heart strings, as the sibling adversaries ultimately bring the best out of each other. Recommended.
Note: There’s lots to like about the 2019 German Film Festival, culminating in the closing night, which features the celebrated and controversial classic 1931 film version of Bertolt Brecht’s wonderful satire The Threepenny Opera (great great music, too, the most famous example being the much covered Mack the Knife). See here for Perth program and screening times.
(note: Australian screenings have English subtitles)
Movie Website: https://germanfilmfestival.com.au/films/25kmh
Australian release date: 25 km/h screens as part of the 2019 German Film Festival (in Perth at Palace Cinema Paradiso and Raine Square).
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