Plastic surgeon Claus (Oliver Masucci) and landscape architect Evi (Katja Riemann) are successful and rich, living in a chique villa in a fashionable area. But one day, their cleaner doesn’t show up. Dismayed, Claus puts an ad in the newspaper for a new cleaner, but thinking it funny, he writes that he is looking for a slave. The ad is a full success, much to his surprise. But even more surprisingly they actually find somebody among the applicants who might work: Bartos (Samuel Finzi) and later his wife Lana (Lize Feryn) move in to give the arrangement a try. And Claus and Evi quickly adapt to the all-around service.
Herrliche Zeiten is a little obvious in where it is going, but I liked the idea enough to have it still be interesting. There are cringeworthy moments and the ending didn’t entirely work for me, but it was never boring and I enjoyed watching it.
Herrliche Zeiten is a pretty sharp commentary about power and how quickly power makes us unsee humanity. Evi and Claus are initially hesitant about the idea of having a “slave”, or rather, of calling a slave a slave, as Bartos insists they do. Their hesitation quickly evaporates though, and they really lean into having their hand and foot waited on.
It becomes even more transparent when Bartos convinces them to hire a group of men (most of whom don’t really speak German) to build a pool, stripping the thin veneer of civility off their privilege and disregard for whoever they consider their inferiors even more apparent.
Despite this very clear look at the corrupting effect of power, the ending of the film disappointed me a little – it just wasn’t revolutionary enough, at least for my taste. It should have been way more drastic. And there were moments in between, especially when it comes to Evi and Claus’ neighbor Mohammed (Yasin El Harrouk) whose portrayal always smacked of racism without going entirely there, I think.
Nevertheless, Herrliche Zeiten is entertaining enough. The cast is really good, above all Katja Riemann and Roehler manages to keep tensions up and the plot moving at a fast pace. It’s still not a great film, but watching it is mostly fun.