Waren einmal Revoluzzer [Once Were Rebels] (2019)

Waren einmal Revoluzzer
Director: Johanna Moder
Writer: Johanna Moder
Cast: Julia Jentsch, Marcel Mohab, Aenne Schwarz, Manuel Rubey, Tambet Tuisk, Lena Tronina, Josef Hader
Seen on: 10.9.2020

Helene (Julia Jentsch) is a judge, her husband Jakob (Manuel Rubey) a musician and stay-at-home dad. Their lives are pretty settled, as is their friend’s Volker (Marcel Mohab), a therapist with an unceasing string of girlfriends. The newest is Tina (Aenne Schwarz), an art historian who works with children at the museum. When Volker mentions that he will go to Russia for a conference, Helene asks him to bring a package to Pavel (Tambet Tuisk), her Russian college boyfriend who finds himself in a tight spot. This leads to Pavel actually fleeing from Russia to Austria. To Helene’s surprise, he shows up with his wife Eugenia (Lena Tronina) and their child, getting everything in disarray.

Waren einmal Revoluzzer profits from its political heart that does elevate the film beyond the rather standard comedy it is. Still, while entertaining and well-made, I didn’t really love it.

The film poster shwing the faces of the 3 couples in the film.

Waren einmal Revoluzzer shows that the realities of helping are much less comfortable than the idea of doing so; and that the people who have the resources to help are too comfortable to actually attempt it. And that if you are actually willing to put in the work, you will meet not with support, but with ostracization because you make it too clear that the others are just too comfortable.

Now, that message isn’t exactly subtly delivered in the film and it maybe could have done with a little more shades of grey, especially since the topic isn’t all that new, and a little more focus on the most affected people in the situation: the refugees Pavel and Eugenia. But I did appreciate that it was there in the first place.

Helene (Julia Jentsch) talking to Jakob (Manuel Rubey) in the forest.

Because otherwise the film is a pretty run-of-the-mill comedy. The performances are good, the jokes often not that much and the plot developments are entirely forseeable. If the film didn’t have that political message, it would be completely forgettable, it feels so familiar.

But of course there is something reassuring about familiarity and Waren einmal Revoluzzer is definitely entertaining to watch. So, if you’re looking for an evening of light entertainment, you could absolutely choose a worse film. Just don’t expect more than that.

Helene (Julia Jentsch) greeting Pavel (Tambet Tuisk), his wife Eugenia (Lena Tronina) and their baby at the train station.

Summarizing: Fun enough.

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