Faraway Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
This German rom-com is embarrassingly unfunny, containing terrible characters & a pretentious plot that ain’t really reading anywhere.
Genre: Comedy / Drama / Romance
Director: Vanessa Jopp
Cast: Namoi Krauss, Goran Bogdan, Adnan Maral, Vedat Erincin, Bahar Balci, Artjom Gilz, Mladen Vasary, Davor Tomiç & Paula Schramm.
Run Time: 109 min.
US Release: 08 March 2023 (Netflix)
UK Release: 08 March 2023 (Netflix)
German Release: 08 March 2023 (Netflix)
New week, new Netflix release. This time around, a German romantic comedy that has little excitement and isn’t really that humorous. Marketed in the ‘new release’ section, I hadn’t heard about this one before, simply deciding to jump into it, to see if it would surprise me. It didn’t! Worse, it makes use of a cliché that has been done one-million times on film, as well as TV, in Germany. It has some other issues, yet isn’t the worst flick I have seen. So, get some kebab and make yourself comfortable, as we drive into my review for Faraway…
Zeynep, an unhappy housewife living in Munich, flees to a remote Croatian island, where her deceased mother bought a house a long time ago. She is hoping for some relaxation but is surprised by Josip, the former owner who is still living on the property.
I’ll give the writing duo of Jane Ainscough plus Alex Kendall props for the story’s fast pacing. At under two hours of runtime, it never felt like it dragged. Unfortunately, it is about the only positive thing I can give the script.
Sadly the screenplay falls quickly into a lot of German clichés seen throughout cinema, or television. The lifestyle clash within a multicultural family has been done to death, not offering anything new, as is the butting of generations within one household. Then there is the portrayal of Germans, or the mindset of Germans in this case, as the main character Zeynep, a Turkish-Croatian wife and mother, who grew up in Germany, is full of them. From the ”apparent” open mindset about sexuality, or fashion style of the younger generation, to the immediate threat of hiring a lawyer to sue… It is all in there.
Then there is the way how Zeynep handles her situation inside the family. Granted, everyone in it is displayed as incredibly unlikeable; The possibly cheating husband. The spoiled daughter. Even her own father is unappreciative of everything his daughter does for him. That said, to just run off into a completely different country, leaving the family behind for days, before finally reaching out again, is not simply selfish, but puts our lead in a negative light.
Being a German production, most of the dialogue is in German, especially during the first fifteen minutes. That said, as the location shifts to Croatia, English is used predominantly during conversations, as the lead does not speak the country's language. Turkish, just like Croatian, is sprinkled throughout the plot. A lot of the dialogue is over-dramatised, which is especially true during the funeral scene at the beginning.
Namoi Krauss as Zeynep Altin gives a good performance with what she is given. Zeynep is among the most interesting of all characters, undergoing a vital transformation throughout the film. She starts as a lost soul, not knowing anymore who she is. Her time by the sea, helps her to find her identity as a woman again. If it sounds interesting, it is! However, as a character, she is incredibly unlikeable, needy, as well as judgemental. It is during the last twenty-five minutes that she undergoes a vital change, by then, it is sadly too late.
Goran Bogdan gives another solid rendition as Josip, the former owner of the house that Zeynep’s mother bought, who is still living there. Josip has also a tragic past that moulded him the way he is. Portrayed as rude and nearly caveman-like, he does have a sentimental side that audiences can notice immediately. Sadly, the character isn’t given enough time to be fully fleshed out.
Bahar Balci plays Zey’s daughter Fia, who is an entitled brat and insufferable. It is later revealed that she has a secret, though it ain’t a reason to behave like that. Adnan Maral plays Zeynep’s husband, who is ignorant of her, flirting with other women.
This leads me to the cinematography, whose strongest aspects are the beautiful long shots of the scenery, doused in warm, strong colours. The Mediterranean feel is well captured! Apart from that, the camera work and editing are pretty average, offering nothing new, apart from one intriguing shot around the middle. The usual travelling montages are used when transferring from Germany to Croatia. Editing-wise, there is little creativity using standard cuts, plus fade-outs. The set design suits the Mediterranean flair, mostly focusing on the small house atop a cliff, overlooking the sea. The town square, as well as a couple of inside stores, are also featured in a couple of scenes. The costume design is modelled after the personas, using full body shapewear for the late-forties lead, hip clothes for her tween daughter, jeans and a breezy shirt for the islander Josip.
A mix of different pop songs are used to underline specific moments, including Nena’s “99 Luftballons”, which in itself is a cliché. The original score is not memorable, sounding generic.
Verdict: Vanessa Jopp’s romantic comedy is unfortunately neither funny nor is it very romantic. This is by no means a terrible movie, simply subpar, using elements that have been already used thousands of times before, and at that much better. The script is filled with platitudes about the German mentality. The plot paints the main character in a negative light, in fact, apart from Josip, everybody is unlikeable. The whole premise lacks originality, reflected in the lack of cinematographic creativity, or the lacklustre music that sounds like a million similar pieces. The few praises I can give it, concern the pacing of the narrative, the warm colours, as well as the gorgeous panoramic shots. It ain’t an absolute disaster, which has a lot to say for a German rom-com, that said, it isn't a great product. As it stands, I will give Netflix’s Faraway a 4.0 out of 10.
Have you seen Netflix’s new German release? What did you think of it? Leave a comment in the section below & thank you for reading!