Thursday, June 22, 2017

Die Mitte der Welt (Center of My World)

Die Mitte der Welt (Center of My World), dir. Jakob M. Erwa, 2016 Germany, 115 min., in German with English subtitles 💖
Wednesday, June 21, 9:15 p.m., Castro Theatre
Die Mitte der Welt (Center of My World): Kat, Nicholas, Phil
Die Mitte der Welt (Center of My World) is a popular “young adult” novel in Germany, now made into a wildly popular movie, available on DVD in Germany (though not yet in the U.S.). The main character is Phil (Louis Hofmann, Tom Sawyer in the German-language Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huck Finn; pictured, right), who lives on the outskirts of town with his mother Glass (an eccentric American expatriate) and his fraternal twin sister Dianne. At the beginning of the film, Phil is just returning from summer camp, where he was studying French. He arrives home to find that Glass and Dianne are not speaking to each other, but he spends the last few days of summer reconnecting with his best friend Katya (pictured, left), who tells him a little bit about a new student who will be joining their class, Nicholas (Jannik Schümann, center). Phil is immediately smitten with Nicholas, who shares the sentiment, so they begin a sweet but turbulent “first love.” Of course, things get tangled, complicated by ripples from long-past family issues involving Glass and Dianne.

The actors are very attractive, which never hurts, but their performance is far more than eye candy. Hofmann captures the butterflies-in-the-stomach essence of adolescent love, rollercoastering from bliss to anguish and mostly wearing his heart on his sleeve. There is a weird bit of supernatural mumbo jumbo in the story that felt like a sideshow, but the main focus is on Phil and his relationships with mother, sister, best friend, and boyfriend. There is a bit of incidental homophobia from Phil’s classmates, but Phil’s doubts are not around his sexuality but solely around the level to which Nicholas reciprocates his feelings. The sentiment that the filmmaker wishes to convey is clearly that there is no problem with being gay, being in love, or being in a sexual relationship, as long as you remain true to yourself. There is a certain element of melodrama in the story, but also several moments of genuine emotion. It’s a beautiful film, definitely a MUST SEE. I just hope the U.S. DVD comes out soon!

IMDb page  • trailer • also played in the Berlin & Beyond festival, Feb. 4, 2017 •

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