My Sweet Home

A bunch of immigrants in a Berlin bar become the ad hoc guests at the wedding eve party of an American and his German girlfriend in "My Sweet Home," an initially neat idea that slips out of focus as it progresses, finally degenerating to blah effect.

With:
With: Harvey Friedman, Nadja Uhl, Monika Hansen, Mario Mentrup, David Monteiro, Mehdi Nebbou, Eleftheria Sapountzis, Petar Lewan, Maxim Kovalevski, Irakli Kemertelidze, Moonsuk Kang, Neil D'Souza, Tatjana Alexander, Michael Schweighoefer, Bakhtiar Khudojnazarov, Balkan All Stars. (German, English and Russian dialogue.)

A bunch of immigrants in a Berlin bar become the ad hoc guests at the wedding eve party of an American and his German girlfriend in “My Sweet Home,” an initially neat idea that slips out of focus as it progresses, finally degenerating to blah effect. German-Greek co-production by debuting Hellenic helmer Filippos Tsitos summons the ghosts of several other movies — from U.S. indies to Balkan ensemblers by Emir Kusturica — without ever forging a strong identity of its own. Euro webs look to be its sweetest home.

Mega-cute Nadja Uhl, so good as the brittle lesbian lover in Volker Schlondorff’s “The Legends of Rita,” plays Anke, a Berlin tour guide who’s fallen for drifter Bruce (Harvey Friedman). In an intriguing opening sequence, played out along the city’s nighttime streets, Bruce proposes to her, tears up his return air ticket to the U.S. and finally gets her to agree to marry him.

Anke has a young daughter from a liaison with a Cameroonian and is looking for a stable family environment. But after promising not to leave her, Bruce is plagued by doubts about whether he should settle down or to return to “Cali-fuckin’-fornia.”

This central tension is played out during a long night in which the couple lands in a bar, Anke demands a traditional Polterabend party, and Bruce improvises by assembling all the customers round a table. Multiethnic mix includes two hot-headed Russian street musicians (Maxim Kovalevski, Irakli Kemertelidze), a Korean woman (Moonsuk Kang) unhappily married to a German, a garrulous Pakistani (Neil D’Souza), a Moroccan construction worker (Mehdi Nebbou) romancing a Greek woman (Eleftheria Sapountzis), the bar owner (Mario Mentrup) who dreams of going to the U.S., a Brazilian student (David Monteiro) about to be deported and an unemployed east German (Petar Lewan).

Over the course of the night, the main ethnic characters confess their dreams of “home” — as monologues lit, legitlike, by a single spot.

Main emotional weakness of the film is Bruce, portrayed by Friedman as a selfish, down-in-the-mouth muddlehead straight out of some self-obsessed Amerindie. There’s little screen chemistry between him and Uhl.

Other characters are more colorful than fully realized. When the tempo or inspiration lags, the bar band (led by Nelle Karajlic, a partner in Kusturica’s No Smoking band) strikes up another Balkan folk-rock medley.

Tech credits are pro at all levels. Tadjik director Bakhtiar Khudojnazarov (“Luna Papa”) has a small role as a beggar.

My Sweet Home

Germany - Greece

Production: A Pegasos release (in Germany) of a Twenty Twenty Vision Filmproduktion presentation of a Twenty Twenty Vision, Pandora Film Produktion, ZDF-Arte, German Film & TV Academy (Germany)/Ideefixe Prods., Greek Film Centre, Prooptiki (Greece) production, in association with ERT. (International sales: Arri Media, Munich.) Produced by Thanassis Karathanos. Executive producers, Karathanos, Renee Gundelach. Co-producers, Karl Baumgartner, Fenia Cossovitsa. Directed, written by Filippos Tsitos.

Crew: Camera (color), Hanno Lentz; editors, Petar Markovic, Nebojsa Stanojevic; music, Nelle Karajlic, Dejan Sparavalo; production designer, Peter Weber; art director, Isabel Ott; costumes, Nebojsa Lipanovic; sound (Dolby), Andreas Koeppen, Martin Steyer; associate producer, Uta Ganschow; assistant director, Lucas Schoener. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (competing), Feb. 16, 2001. Running time: 86 MIN.

With: With: Harvey Friedman, Nadja Uhl, Monika Hansen, Mario Mentrup, David Monteiro, Mehdi Nebbou, Eleftheria Sapountzis, Petar Lewan, Maxim Kovalevski, Irakli Kemertelidze, Moonsuk Kang, Neil D'Souza, Tatjana Alexander, Michael Schweighoefer, Bakhtiar Khudojnazarov, Balkan All Stars. (German, English and Russian dialogue.)

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