Re-Watch: Charlie & Louise – Das doppelte Lottchen (1994)

Charlie & Louise – Das doppelte Lottchen
Director: Joseph Vilsmaier
Writer: Stephan Reinhart, Klaus Richter
Based on: Erich Kästner‘s novel Lottie and Lisa
Cast: Fritzi Eichhorn, Floriane Eichhorn, Heiner Lauterbach, Corinna Harfouch, Hanns Zischler, Hans Werner Meyer
Seen on: 30.8.2016

Plot:
Charlie (Fritzi Eichhorn) grew up with her father Wolf (Heiner Lauterbach), while Louise (Floriane Eichhorn) grew up with her mother Sabine (Corinna Harfouch). By chance they meet at a summer camp in Scotland – and after taking an initial dislike to each other, they realize that their parents have been lying to them all their lives and that they’re actually twins. Of course they are both curious to meet the parent they don’t know, so they decide to switch places with each other after their return. And maybe they’ll have a chance to bring their parents back together.

I really loved the movie when I was a kid (I’m reasonably certain that I saw it in the cinema when it came out and I saw it many times since then), but it’s been many years since I actually watched it. Rewatching it now together with my nieces who are just about the right age was a really nice experience, although the film is definitely geared towards kids more than towards adults.

charlielouise

There is something rather old-fashioned about the story. Nowadays it’s almost unthinkable that twins would get split up like this, and the characterization of the twin growing up with her father being more boyish while her sister is more girly is oversimplifying things a little. And the story’s insistence that the original family is the best family you could possibly have, no matter that Wolf and Sabine’s break-up was so toxic, they rather went more than a decade without seeing half of their children than risk talking to each other, also betrays its age (the novel is from 1949 and was rather progressive then, having divorced parents in the first place and a working single mother at its center).

But those ideas about family still have their weight today and the story still appeals – especially though because it is less about bringing the parents back together than it is about those two girls who are different, and yet not, whose parents did them a great injustice and they will not keep still and simply accept their fate. They are the masters of their own story, making pretty much all of the decisions in the film and shaping the world according to their ideas. And how awesome is that? It’s an extremely rare thing for girls to get to do and I can’t help but love the film for it, despite the “traditional family values” at its core.

charlielouise1In any case, the entire thing is packaged into a really nice film with good performances by both the kids and the parents. Transplanting the story into the 90s and partly to Scotland works rather nicely as well, and provided the appropriate fashion disaster vibe from today’s perspective.

Watching it as an adult, I discovered a few things I didn’t notice that much as a kid – like the hilarious musical Wolf is writing and that is obviously not included for the benefit of the kid audience. But mostly the film is happy with being nothing more and nothing less than entirely geared towards the intended audience: kids and tweens.

charlielouise2Summarizing: Charlie & Louise is not the only movie version of Kästner’s novel – but it’s my favorite.

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