Deine besten Jahre [Your Best Years] (1999)

Deine besten Jahre
Director: Dominik Graf
Writer: Markus Busch, Bernd Schwamm
Cast: Martina Gedeck, Tobias Moretti, Tim Bergmann, Carla Hagen, Wolfgang Hinze, Mona Seefried, Marian LöschBirge Schade, Monika Woytowicz
Seen on: 20.4.2016

Plot:
Vera (Martina Gedeck) seems to lead a perfect life: she’s the heiress of a successful company that is run by her husband Manfred (Tobias Moretti) who is devoted to her and their son Max (Marian Löschl). Then Vera starts to discover a first crack in the facade: Manfred seems to be having an affair. In an attempt to save their relationship, she whisks him away on an impromptu holiday. But very quickly Vera finds her life crumbling around her entirely and the only one who seems to be always there for her is former company employee Andreas (Tim Bergmann).

Deine besten Jahre is a strange film, made even more unusual because it’s a TV production. What starts as a normal family drama takes some surprising and sometimes downright experimental turns leading to a fascinating film that takes a while to settle.

deinebestenjahre

When I had finished the film I didn’t quite know what to make of it. What I had seen was a well-crafted film with a furious performance by a fantastic Martina Gedeck, that much was for certain. But what was I supposed to make of the rest? What to do with a film that starts like every other family drama and becomes increasingly less transparent and even manages to include a fairy-tale-esque sequence before returning to the real world for the ending?

I admit that my first reaction wasn’t all that positive. Having expected something along the line of Graf’s Die geliebten Schwestern (that I loved and that was a very straightforward film) I was taken aback by the less polished nature of Deine besten Jahre and its experimental meandering. But the more I thought about it, the more I started to like it and the way it questions our storytelling conventions while telling a rather conventional story.

deinebestenjahre1But I can also understand when people don’t exactly make the u-turn I made after letting the film stew for a while. It’s certainly not a particularly approachable film that lends itself to easy viewing. I’m quite floored by the fact that it was a TV production – more often than not, (German) TV production err on the side of light entertainment rather than artistic experimentation. And Deine besten Jahre is a strange mix between the two.

In any case I was very focused during the film, drawn in by its moody atmosphere and the good cast, even if I was sometimes rather confused. But a little confusion can be a fruitful thing – and that’s exactly what happened for me here.

deinebestenjahre2Summarizing: Worth giving a shot.

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