Almanya – Willkommen in Deutschland [Almanya – Welcome to Germany] (2011)

Almanya is the newest film by Yasemin Samdereli, written by herself and Nesrin Samdereli and starring Fahri Ögün Yardim, Demet Gül, Vedat Erincin, Lilay Huser, Denis Moschitto, Petra Schmidt-Schaller, Aylin Tezel and Rafael Koussouris.

About 60 years ago, the family Yilmaz emigrated from Turkey to Germany. Now their grandson Cenk (Rafael Koussouris) starts to question his identity: is he German or Turkish? His cousin Canan (Aylin Tezel) starts telling him the story of how his grandfather Hüseyin (Vedat Erincin) arrived in Germany as a young man (Fahri Ögün Yardim), when Hüseyin announces to his flabbergasted family that he bought a house in his old village in Turkey and he expects them all to come with him to Turkey to renovate it.

Almanya tries to approach a difficult topic (immigration, identity, integration) with a sense of humor. And while it has good basics it stands in its own way sometimes: it can’t really stay away from a few stereotypes which makes it a lot shallower than would have been necessary. Still, it is an entertaining film and makes for a nice evening.

There were some brilliant things in this film. The movie is in German but most of the time the characters would have been talking Turkish. When that was the case the people who talked German just kind of babbled – but it sounded like they were talking German. It was perfectly done. They even had Christmas songs.

And I loved Fahri Ögün Yardim to bits. He has a Roberto Benigni kind of presence – this rather nervous energy which is wonderful to watch and very funny.
I generally liked the flashbacks into 1950s Turkey. They worked very well and were really funny.

Unfortunately, I didn’t connect to the modern parts as well. I felt that Cenk’s very legitimate and interesting question about his identity was examined rather heavy-handedly. And Aylin Tezel really can’t act. Especially when it comes to her being the narrator this was quite jarring.

The script also struggles with stereotypes. Ali, who was lucky enough to be played by the charming Denis Moschitto, is a character we have seen a hundred billion times. The thing with the 1 million and first was quite old, too.

Summarising: entertaining and very watchable but could have been more.


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