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American Women's Club of Hamburg

Stopped on Track

Douglas Sirk Prize for life’s work to director Andreas Dresen

and producer Peter Rommel. Festival film: Stopped on Track (Halt auf freier Strecke)

 

Forty-year-old Frank and his wife Simone are shocked and speechless when the friendly but helpless doctor explains the devastating diagnosis of Frank’s brain tumour. It is inoperable and he has about three months to live. How does one come to terms with this kind of situation, how to tell the children Mika and Lili?

At first, the family tries to keep to its daily routine until Frank has to stop working. Simone takes on the demanding task of caring for her husband at home. We witness tender and funny moments as well as the strain the family has to shoulder. It is troubling to see Frank’s mental and physical deterioration but one can also laugh at the bizarre and unwittingly crazy scenes. For some viewers it might be an all-too-accurate and realistic portrayal of Frank’s dying but some of the funny and poetic scenes will make up for it. This emotionally touching film never becomes melodramatic and surprisingly left me with a positive feeling. The temperamental outbursts by Steffi Khunert as the wife and Milan Peschel as the cancer patient are convincing, contrasting with the tender moments. Also the two children (Mika Seidel and Talisa Lilly Lemke) have to be praised for acting so naturally. Filmmaker Andreas Dresen is taking a brave, honest and unsentimental look at death. He even abstains from using any music score and engaged laymen, like the doctor, nurse and care personnell to act their part in the film. This makes for a particularly authentic touch. At the film festival in Cannes 2011 the movie received the highest award in the category Un Certain Regard. (BS)

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