Vertraute Fremde [A Distant Neighbourhood] (2010)

Vertraute Fremde is the adaptation of Jirô Taniguchi‘s manga. It was directed by Sam Garbarski and stars Pascal Greggory, Léo Legrand and Alexandra Maria Lara.

Thomas (Pascal Greggory) is a comic artist who has written and drawn one famous series, though he hasn’t been able to continue working for it for quite a while. When he wants to return from a comic con to Paris, he gets on the wrong train and happens to arrive in the village he grew up in. He spends his waiting time reminiscing, finally visiting his mother’s grave. At the cemetary, though, he breaks down – and when he wakes up, he’s a teenager (Léo Legrande) again. Hardly believing it himself, Thomas sets out to understand what made his father leave all those years ago, never to be heard of again.

It’s a nice movie. It’s very well cast and the story itself is interesting. And yet, the film didn’t blow me away. I don’t regret seeing it, but it didn’t leave a lasting impression either.

I think the problems lie with the pacing in this case. The film ambles along and never carries any momentum and then it’s over. You never get really pulled into the story.

Which is too bad, because the cast was really awesome. Especially Léo Legrand was amazing. He basically carries the movie on his own; and he’s not even 15. [Also, he’s going to be one hell of a good-looking man in 10 years.] But also Alexandra Maria Lara gives a wonderful performance.

The story itself was a little obvious but nevertheless enjoyable. And when 55-year-old-Thomas-in-15-year-old-body tells his first love and kinda girlfriend Sylvie that he’s not comfortable kissing her [because he is 55, dammit], I almost cheered and I felt like callingy Edward Cullen, just to say: THAT’S HOW IT’S DONE, YOU CREEP!

But despite all this, the film remains flat and strangely liveless. Not even the soundtrack by Air can change that – quite to the contrary, the soundtrack did what soundtracks are supposed to do: reinforce the feel of the film. When that feel is flat though, that is not a good thing.

Summarising: It is watchable, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it.

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