Meyerhoff film “When will it finally be like it never was” in the cinema

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Vone likes to say that childhood is a paradise. Unfortunately, paradises have a trait of rarely delivering on their promise. It is no coincidence that one often reads about them in narratives of expulsion. And doesn’t paradise rhyme with paradox?

The childhood memories of the actor Joachim Meyerhoff were published in 2013 under the title “When will it finally be like it never was”. Paradox is no word for it, you also hear utopia and nostalgia and irony, the remedy for the melancholy. Meyerhoff grew up in the paradise of central western Germany, in a prosperous country with modernization conflicts. And of course, paradise isn’t that easy when you inevitably have adult parents and then, as in the case of little Joachim, two older brothers. Even the word nestling cannot gloss over the fact that this position in the family has many snags.

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A lot of work went into the “period detail”

Well, Josse, as Joachim is called, shouldn’t really complain. Because in daily sight live people who have it even harder than him. “Brain” is what one of the brothers prefers to call them, but there are also a whole lot of other inadmissible words in circulation about the patients of a psychiatric clinic, who are more or less family members at the Meyerhoffs. The father is a doctor in this clinic, the apartment is on campus, there are a few crazy people sitting in the living room from time to time, to use only the most everyday of the discriminatory terms that children like to burn their mouths with. “Calling her that was perfectly normal for us. Even the parents used one of these expressions every now and then when we were alone.”

“Among us” is the actual theme of Meyerhoff’s bestseller, because the narrator, looking back at his childlike self, is no longer among us, but rather a result of the complicated equations that represent families. Joachim remembers Josse, he slips under the covers in the teenager’s room again, he sits again at the family table when they cook it up on Sundays, and he tries again to understand what must have been going on in his mother’s mind when she spoke Italian very well telephoned intimately with a man who also seemed to have something to do with ideas of paradise.

The border between paradise and expulsion

A film adaptation of Meyerhoff’s successful book was obvious. With Sonja Heiss, a director who has an interesting niche in German cinema has now taken on the task: one could speak of an author’s comedy. Heiss already presented something like this in 2015 with “Hedi Schneider is stuck”, with Laura Tonke in the leading role of a woman who is confronted with panic attacks. It wasn’t really mainstream in terms of subject, so it wasn’t Karoline Herfurth or Alireza Golafshan, it was more like something like Berlin School in a funny way. In the same breath, the absurdity of the Berlin School label would have crossed the dividing line between normal and crazy.

The film “When will it finally be like it never was” does not have to emancipate itself from the original. It’s more about giving concrete form to the evocation of a world that one finds in Meyerhoff. That’s why Heiss depends a lot on the aspects that are always negotiated in the first half of the Oscars: equipment, costume design, and the soundtrack. A lot of work went into the “period detail”, the English technical term for a genre that has gained in importance in times of many retro references. The recent past is occupied with hundreds of personal madeleines; What Proust used to say was pasta, Meyerhoff is a veritable hodgepodge of references to time and ephemeral fashions. And Heiss can also use successful slapstick scenes that are already very entertaining in the book, for example the clinic visit of a prime minister who markets himself as “The big clear one from the north” and is attacked by a patient named Rudi.

At its core, however, it is about a childhood that falls apart from within, like Josse’s family. Father and mother (both great in their own way: Laura Tonke and Devid Striesow) don’t pretend to the children, they are simply mysterious in a way (also for themselves) that one only learns to understand as the normal state of life over the course of many years. As an adolescent, you try to answer the questions that you cannot ask directly in pop culture. And with that you have the mixture of “When will it finally be like it never was again” quite well together. Somehow everything feels strange, but you feel every second that something very sad is actually going on.

The small act of strength with which Josse keeps pushing the beds of his parents together, who have just grown apart, as they say, this rebellion against the inevitable also marks a border between paradise and expulsion. Not even a muscular man could force together the centrifugal forces that exist between people. And Josse is rather slender, he just has to remember things in order to write them down later. This later becomes then again with Sonja Heiss. The back and forth hits her quite well.

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( With inputs from : pledgetimes.com )

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