Opening April 18, 2019
Directed by: Hanne Marie Braavig, Thor Braavig, Benedict Durchholz, and Sandhya Durchholz
Writing credits: Hanne Marie Braavig, Thor Braavig, Benedict Durchholz, and Sandhya Durchholz
Principal actors: Documentary: Hanne Marie Braavig, Thor Braavig, Benedict Durchholz, and Sandhya Durchholz
In this sweet and simple documentary, two couples with young children decide to change their lives dramatically. Hanne Marie and Thor Braavig, Norwegians who have been living in Dortmund, Germany, for over a decade, sell their house, their car, and all of their possessions, and buy six one-way plane tickets to Bangkok, where they begin a 15-month adventure in Asia and Australasia with their four children. At almost the same time, Sandhya and Benedict Durchholz make a similar decision, and leave Frankfurt behind for an open-ended travel experience with their young son. The families meet each other in Bali, and an idea is born to make a documentary about their similar journeys.
Luckily for them, both families have been constantly documenting their travels, as both the Braavig and Durchholz families are bloggers, and there’s seemingly endless footage of the children swimming and fishing and frolicking in waterfalls. Or in the case of the Braavig family, moving in temporarily with a “crazy” woman they meet in Australia to save money on camping. Or standing in the middle of a late-night traffic jam in a Vietnamese city, as is the case with the Durchholz family, who wear their young son everywhere – and point out how in Asia babies are worn (rather than pushed in strollers) and are completely integrated into everyday intergenerational life.
The movie drags a little bit through repetition, particularly with the footage of “Sandy and Benni” with their young son – footage that feels gimmicky at times and too focused on performing for the camera. But the movie is uplifting and charming, convincing in its overall message that children thrive when they’re given a chance to roam free in nature and experience other cultures firsthand, and that both families benefit from having so much unstructured time together. The footage of the Braavig family feels more authentic, as they show some of the struggles that result from their choice to uproot their four children – such as briefly describing how they give up trying to homeschool the kids along the way, and decide to let them just soak up new experiences and languages. Thor also has to take time out from some of the family’s adventures to earn money as a translator, which also reveals that the decision to forge a different path with their family still needs to be paid for somehow! This is a bright feel-good movie that just might convince others to pick up and go on a memorable journey with their own families. (Diana Perry S.)