Je Suis Karl 2021 Movie Review
It all starts with Ines (Melanie Fouche, 44) and Alex Baier (Milan Peschel, 53), who are a committed couple. They drive across the border to Budapest and illegally bring the refugee Yusuf (Aziz Dyab, 26) to Berlin, hidden in the car. Before that, they met him in Greece, exchanged ideas and stood up for the young man.
Ines and Alex live in the German capital together with their eldest daughter Maxi (Luna Wedler, 21) and their two little boys Hans and Franz. The family idyll is suddenly ripped apart a little later. Alex takes a package for a neighbor, puts it in his apartment, goes out again to get the wine from the car – and is knocked to the ground by the force of the bomb explosion.
Completely amazed, he looks at the place where his home was until a few seconds ago. Now there is a huge gap in the apartment building. Especially bad for Alex: Ines, Hans and Franz did not survive the cowardly attack. Maxi, on the other hand, was, because luckily she was not at home. Of course, she and Alex no longer understand the world. Who is behind all of this? The investigative authorities are in the dark. While Alex is amazed and tries to realize what happened, Maxi meets the charming Karl (Jannis Niewöhner, 29), who saves her from an intrusive TV reporter and invites her to Prague.
Since Maxi can no longer stand it in Berlin anyway, she takes this opportunity and meets a group of young people in the Czech metropolis who are rebelling against the political system of Europe. Their radical means are, however, cross-border. In addition, the leaders around Karl have a dark secret. Will Maxi see through their game in time?
Christian Schwochow (42, “Deutschstunde”, “The Crown”, “Bad Banks”) implemented this explosive story disappointingly. The work of the experienced director may have good beginnings, but does not even begin to exploit the great potential.
There are several reasons for this. The love story, drawn by the hair and taking up an unnecessarily large amount of space, is not able to convince. The chemistry between Wedler and Niewöhner is right, but neither can they give this aspect of the story any depth.
The lack of backgrounds is the core problem anyway. The film portrays an extremist youth movement with all its fanaticism, but only works out its motives very superficially. As a viewer you just have to accept that many people of this generation are angry and have no hope of recovery unless they walk over dead bodies – in the truest sense of the word.
But who exactly are they anyway? Where do they come from, what are their motivations, what drives them in this extremist direction? Anyone who “dares” to ask such questions will not have any pleasure with “Je Suis Karl”.
Because he is implausible and striking even in the logic of the film, because he does not even begin to answer all these questions. This makes the drama very easy and leaves you frustrated. Because since it is about the love story between the two main protagonists and the milieu study of the group of young people, Schwochow’s work does not work in the end. The plot is quite captivating and interesting, but with the abstract and far-fetched resolution, a lot tears itself down again.
This is a shame because things are getting off to a promising start. But at the latest with the beginning of the grief processing, the story-technical holes get bigger and bigger, the behavior of the characters more and more abstract and the narrative more and more outrageous. Soon one follows the whole development only frowning and shaking his head.
The jerky and patchy cut and the exhausting wobbly camera work, which is supposed to create realism, but with its permanent jerking, play a decisive role in this.
After all, the locations were chosen appropriately, the background music is consistent and the costumes fit seamlessly into the plot. In terms of acting, Wedler (“The Most Beautiful Girl in the World”) and Niewöhner (“Kids Run”) try their best, but they cannot cover up the many weaknesses. They perform well, but that they were considered for the Lolas is very surprising. The same goes for Peschel (“Der Hauptmann”) as best supporting actor and especially for the nomination as best feature film. It is not deserved.
Instead, it raises questions. Why do polarizing works, which at best have been moderately implemented, regularly get so much attention? This is puzzling and does not fit the approach that the best should be nominated. As is well known, this is not a purely German problem, but shows up again and again at the “Oscars” and “Golden Globes” – a shame!