Opening July 19, 2018
Directed by: Hans Weingartner
Writing credits: Hans Weingartner, Silke Eggert
Principal actors: Mala Emde, Anton Spieker
Jule (Mala Emde) is driving her 303 Mercedes van from Berlin to Portugal to meet her boyfriend. Jan (Anton Spieker), is on his way to Spain to meet his biological father for the first time. He misses his transportation and after a few unsuccessful attempts to hitch a ride, he piles into the trailer with Jule, with intentions to separate in Cologne. Thus begins a road movie full of beautiful scenery and long philosophical discussions between two 24-year-olds (actually 19 and 26 respectively at filming), who basically have different viewpoints of mankind. This would take a trip around the world to come close to any consensus, although that does not hamper a slowly bubbling mutual attraction. Finally, 50 minutes into the film, Jan takes a turn at the wheel and suddenly they are no longer in a hurry. They grill supper in Belgium. They eat ice cream in Verdun, have a picnic on the Loire, swim and surf in Molies-et-Maal in France. They pass cave paintings in Alta Mira, Spain, and end up in Bordeira, Portugal. These are just six of the over 30 sites filmed.
Perhaps it’s hard to imagine listening to conversations for 145 minutes, but here, it’s as if we were sitting in the backseat, waiting to add our own ideas to the general stream of thought. I think I’ve heard more text here than in any film for a long time. Nothing was improvised, but written in detail by Weingartner and Eggert and spoken so smoothly by Emde and Speaker that we believe it. The van practically assumes a role of its own, a kind of third actor. Director Weingarner said that it’s actually a 308 Mercedes van from 1985, but he thought 303 “sounded better.” He said, “The bus is sort of a space capsule and a time machine with which they travel through 2018.” He worked with a small crew which also travelled in trailers over the 6,000 kilometers from Berlin to Portugal and slept in tents. Naturally, knowledge of German helps to understand the conversations, although enjoyment of the stunning landscapes along country roads requires no language skills. (Becky T.)