A Coffee in Berlin

January 10, 2015


This is a film very much akin to Adrift in Tokyo and resembling Slackers. Though it is fascinating like Adrift in our ability to absorb a completely alien culture. True, contemporary Germany is not exactly in another galaxy like the Japanese are, but nevertheless it is enjoyable to see the little oddities that make Berlin and Germans tick.


Right out of the gates I really appreciated seeing how the film portrays Nazis. First in a film and second with the actual retelling of a man who was schooled at the time of Naziism. It’s wonderful to see how pedestrian the history is, that indeed it is something detached from the minds of the young German. A Jew might protest at the nonchalance but it demonstrates I think a healthy perspective. There is no need to bear the sins of one’s fathers, and it is almost miraculous how the German is able to move forward despite a decade and a half of destabilizing Europe.


Further with the film I wouldn’t say there is so much an ode to the common man nor a celebration of the mediocre but something much closer to resembling the Modernist art movement’s appreciation of the beauty of the everyday. I think of Manet as a perfect example of this, though I think we may see this current as far back as the Dutch masters financed by the merchant class to make art that was while not profane certainly no longer sacred. Being able to enjoy the beauty of everyday life made by everyday people shouldn’t be denied, as there is, and what is common with the previously mentioned films, no assertion that the common man is superior to anything. There is no pronouncement of nobility in the masses. The people that move through the camera lens each have a narrative to tell and all interfere with the music the central character is attempting to write with his own life. That there indubitably exists collaboration amongst all the composers makes a compelling portrait of the beauty of life itself. drama in other words is not necessary to reveal transcendence. Peaceful coexistence is enough to show us a higher world to live towards.


And what about the central character’s narrative? Should we even care? Does the film drive us to feel for a German slacker? Not really. We don’t know why he hasn’t done anything with his life. We don’t really know why he just wanders without a conviction to breathe. He’s content collecting a $1,000 euro check from his daddy every month. The film then does not need us to examine this character’s struggles. It only provides us with his quest for a kaffe in Berlin and all of the pinball walls he ricochets off of.


We see in final then an infantile man, one certainly classified as a Last Man phenomenon, yet is still incubated in a thriving organism that chooses life over death.

Grade: A



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