A humble Romanian actor in his 40's, hardly surviving between a complicated part in a musical, a depressed wife, and the obsession of an imminent, devastating earthquake, becomes the victim of his manipulative father.
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The story is set in 1968, when a Romanian-German family from the city of Arad starts a journey to the German Democratic Republic, where the older son, Mihai, hopes that surgical intervention for his ailing father will restore the family's harmony. Accompanied by Emil, the younger brother, they will be caught in the aftermath of the Prague Spring, which will alter their plans. Written by
A bearable road movie that struggles a bit with character writing
"Die Reise mit Vater" or "That Trip We Took with Dad" is a German/Romanian co-production from 2016, so still a fairly new and fresh film. The director is Anca Miruna Lazarescu and it is her first full feature non-documentary film after several short movies in more than the last decade. She is also among the writers who worked on the script here and the subject fits her very nicely as she moved from Romania to Germany as a child and well it is far from her first work that combines these two countries. The film is set almost half a century in the past as we follow the lives of a Romanian(/German) family and their attempt to leave Romania and move to the GDR. That's right. For once it is people trying to feel to and not from the GDR. But life in Romania back then wasn't fun obviously due to the political climate and the aftermath from World War II, which was still very much present back then slightly over two decades after the war.
Sadly, the exact approach and execution here did not convince me at all. The historic context was not depicted convincingly apart from really baity references about characters being killed that lacked subtlety whatsoever. And the film certainly does not work from a comedy perspective, one of the genres it is described as here on IMDb. There were attempts at comedy, but not really successful ones sadly. And as a drama? Well.. it is not all bad from this perspective, but I do believe it is also not half as memorable as it could have been. The general idea wasn't a bad one, but what they made of it, also with the writing of the characters, just isn't working out. So if you take a look at the endless list of writers here, it is certainly accurate to call this one a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth. I also believe that the film at over 110 minutes is a bit too long for its own good. Had they cut out some (i.e. many) of the lesser interesting parts and kept the film at 85-90 minutes, I may have given it a better rating and perhaps also a thumbs-up. But the way it turned out, I don't think there is any memorable value to it and I would definitely call it a missed opportunity in terms of both acting and writing. I am baffled by the high rating here on IMDb. Romania has produced a lot of greatness in the last years (e.g. Pozitia copilului). This one here does not fit the description. Watch something else instead.
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