Gruber geht [Gruber Is Leaving] (2015)

Gruber geht
Director: Marie Kreutzer
Writer: Marie Kreutzer
Based on: Doris Knecht’s novel
Cast: Manuel Rubey, Bernadette Heerwagen, Doris Schretzmayer, Ulrike Beimpold, Fabian Krüger, Pia Hierzegger
Seen on: 16.3.2021

Content Note: homomisia

John Gruber (Manuel Rubey) loves the expensive things in life, and little else. His sister Kathi (Doris Schretzmayer) who moved to the country with her family certainly doesn’t get much more from him than contempt. Just as Gruber has trouble with a big account in his firm and fears that he might have cancer, he meets DJ Sarah (Bernadette Heerwagen). Sarah happens to be there when Gruber gets the confirmation of his cancer diagnosis, turning their fling into something more. Both Sarah and his illness make him reconsider the priorities in his life – but that is not an easy process.

Writing this review feels a bit like saying goodbye after a lackluster first date. There just was no spark between the film and me. Sometimes these things just don’t work out. We had a nice time, but there won’t be a second date. In short, Gruber geht is a good film that I just didn’t find very interesting.

The film poster showing Gruber (Manuel Rubey) in bed with Sarah (Bernadette Heerwagen). She is handing him a cigarette.

On the surface, Gruber geht is a film we have seen a million times before (the mythology of cancer diagnoses in film is probably a worthy topic for a dissertation), but the film stays away from heart-string-tugging and oversentimentality to really concentrate on Gruber’s growth. That makes it different from many other films in that genre, though to say it is revolutionary may be pushing it a bit too far.

Its being different makes Gruber geht a film worth watching, though whether you will actually like it will probably depend on how much interest you can muster to see a rich, white, young man go from insufferable asshole to okay human being. And I have to admit that my interest in these kind of men may be even smaller than I suspected when I went into the film. Maybe that was compounded that I also don’t care that much for Bob Dylan, an often-cited inspiration in the film.

Gruber (Manuel Rubey) looking at Sarah (Bernadette Heerwagen) as they eat oysters.

There are a couple of moments where I thought that it would truly leave the beaten path – Gruber being bisexual, for example (although, holy moly, the internalized homomisia), or Sarah’s clearly stated wish not to have children. But in the end, despite the film’s careful approach to these topics, we have Gruber and Sarah ready to settle down in heternormativity.

As I said, it’s not that Gruber geht is a bad film – the performances are really strong, the story is well-told, the cinematography is good. It’s just that it completely passed me by on an emotional level. It’s probably worth a try to see if it will work for you, though. It is definitely good enough to deserve a chance.

Gruber (Manuel Rubey) sitting on the floor, looking sad.

Summarizing: not for me.

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