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Summer in Berlin (Unrated)





Release Date: March 30th, 2007 (Landmark Sunshine Cinema) by D Street Releasing.
The Cast: Inka Friedrich, Nadja Uhl, Andreas Schmidt, Stefanie Schonfeld, Christel Peters, Kurt Radeke, Hannes Stelzer, Vincent Redetzki, Lil Oggesen.
Directed by Andreas Dresen.
In German with subtitles.

BASIC PREMISE: During a hot summer in Berlin, Katrin (Friedrich), a 40-year-old single mother, looks for employment while her best friend, Nike (Uhl), has a romance with a trucker (Schmidt).

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Summer in Berlin has enough light drama and comedy to be mildly entertaining. Katrin and her best friend, Nike, often sip alcohol together on Nikeís porch while talking about men and teasing a local pharmacist with sexy prank calls like teenagers would do. The slightly unfocused plot doesnít really give Katrin or Nike any intense, dramatic conflicts, but at least they somewhat have aspirations. Katrin wants to get a job, any job, to support her and her 12-year-old son, Max (Redetzki). Nike, who works as a caretaker for the elderly, romances Ronald, a truck driver who may or may not have a wife and child waiting for him in another town. In a poorly-developed subplot, Max has a crush on a pretty girl from school and wants to impress her by getting a new, expensive pair of running shoes to jog with her, but she prefers to hang out with his best friend. Inka Friedrich and Nadja Uhl both give lively performances as Katrin and Nike. They seem like true friends most of the time, although itís not quite clear how they met to begin with. Screenwriter Wolfgang Kohlhaase combines occasional offbeat humor with a little bit of drama and plenty of character development. Ronaldo, Katrin and Nike all seem like complex characters who you can sympathize with to some degree, despite their flaws. Kohlhaase wisely chooses not to have any over-the-top scenes in the third act, with the exception of a brief attempted rape scene which could have been omitted. He also glosses over Katrinís rehabilitation scenes which would have been important to include. Fortunately, director Andreas Dresen includes a very lively and well-chosen soundtrack and moves the film along at a brisk enough pace so that it never overstays its welcome.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: Unfortunately, none.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Slightly unfocused plot.

NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 1

IN A NUTSHELL: Mildly entertaining with a superb, appealing cast, but slightly unfocused and ultimately forgettable.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: DVD


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