German-based Yank director Sherry Hormann’s “Father’s Day” is a bright and breezy relationships comedy that’s as enjoyable as it is slim. One of several slickly shot movies (including fellow American transplant Sharon von Wietersheim’s “Workaholic”) that have helped to change the profile of contempo German cinema, it’s more likely to be a tube item overseas despite its accessibility, with English-lingo remake rights also possible.
New York-born Hormann, 37, moved to Germany as a kid, and after graduating from Munich’s film school in 1984 made her helming debut seven years later with “Silent Shadows.” Present item is her third feature, and it’s a well-crafted piece of work, with a script by Kit Hopkins that’s fluffy but played with style by an experienced cast.
Film is basically a freewheeling sex comedy, centered on hotshot Munich lawyer Thomas (Herbert Knaup), a happily married family man who, we suddenly learn, has a mistress, Susanne (Natalia Woerner). When Susanne decides she wants a child by him, but fails to get pregnant, Thomas’ fertility is called into doubt. Worse, the doc informs him he’s always been sterile — in which case, who fathered the two young children by his devoted wife, Bettina (Corinna Harfouch)?
After going through old family albums, Thomas reckons the father must have been one of two friends (Dominik Graf, Axel Milberg) who vacationed with him and Bettina back in the ’80s. Reckoning the paternal truth will out if the friends are brought face to face with the two kids, Thomas tracks them down and invites them to stay awhile at his house. He also confesses the truth to his best friend , Johannes (Richy Mueller), a fast-liver turned priest, who subsequently spills the beans to Bettina.
Pic is a little laborious in setting up the premise, but once the dramatis personae are assembled the script develops into a neat character-driven comedy in the second half, with enough twists and complications to keep the idea fresh. Most of all, the players are a likable bunch, and no time is spent agonizing over the moral implications of the story.
Knaup and Mueller double-team in fine style as the suit-and-tie lawyer and twinkly-eyed priest, and as the wife, Harfouch delivers an assured, maturely sexy perf that’s one of the quiet joys of the movie. Pic (previously known in English as “Doubting Thomas”) is unashamedly commercial in its look and tone, but shows high craftsmanship at all levels. German title literally means “To Err Is Manly.”