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The morning begins like any other for Lara Jenkins. But today is a very special day for her: not only is it her 60th birthday, but her son Viktor is giving a big solo piano concert. He hasn't invited his mother.


Jan-Ole Gerster responded to the pressure after OH BOY (A COFFEE IN BERLIN) by making something completely different. His second film is about Lara (Corinna Harfouch), who stands on her window sill ready to jump on the morning of her 60th birthday. The doorbell interrupts her, and afterwards she decides to face the day. Her son Viktor (Tom Schilling) is a pianist and as we find out, he has an important concert in the evening, which to her is as if it was her own concert. The retired administrator has nothing to do and no one to celebrate with. Like a revenant, she visits past life stations, meets ex-colleagues who aren‘t happy to see her, looks for the admired piano teacher of her youth, sends a voice message to her son who doesn‘t call back. She rejects friendliness, and she spreads poison wherever she goes – Lara isn‘t a character that‘s easy to like. Cinematographer Frank Griebe films her in images that threaten to kill her with their loneliness, in the cement gorges of the Hansa quarter where she lives, under the gigantic entrance of the art academy she didn‘t go to.

Lara‘s failed encounters slowly form her story. The son had to pursue a career as a pianist instead of her, she forced her failed dreams onto him, and her power over him is unbroken. You can quickly understand why Viktor doesn‘t want to talk to her. Tom Schilling convincingly plays Viktor as being torn between rebellion, dependence, and love. It‘s complicated to separate between good and bad conditioning, love and manipulation, in a relationship like this. When the mother and son do finally meet, Lara‘s mother appears above them by a window, like a family constellation – a destructive line of ancestors in which each generation passes on their pain onto their children. Jan-Ole Gerste also poses the fearful artist issue of justifying one‘s own doing. “Who needs my music?“ asks Viktor shortly before the concert after some of Lara‘s devastating comments. He doesn‘t yet know that that‘s the wrong question.

Luckly Corinna Harfouch is the one inhabiting, who lends her not only despair and hauntedness, but also a paradoxical vitality. The way she intelligently spouts insults and formulates meticulous harsh truths sheds light on the potential this women would‘ve had if she had dared to live her life. Sometimes a surprising laugh escapes her, an impish joy flares up, making you suddenly like her a bit after all. Jan-Ole Gerster looks at her without judgement so that you gain sympathy for Lara without forgetting her guilt. You don‘t lose interest in her because she doesn‘t give up, she tries to repair the possibly irreparable with a hint of insight; she‘s helpless, but with boundless energy.


Translation: Elinor Lewy


Deutschland 2019, 100 min
Language: German
Genre: Drama
Director: Jan Ole Gerster
Author: Blaz Kutin
DOP: Frank Griebe
Montage: Guillaume Guerry, Isabel Meier
Music: Arash Safaian, Alice Sara Ot
Distributor: STUDIOCANAL
Cast: Tom Schilling, Steffen Jürgens, Corinna Harfouch, Hildegard Schroedter, Susanne Bredehöft
Release: 07.11.2019




  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles
English/with English subtitles
All languages

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