You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Anywhere Else’

An enjoyable but slight drama that only fitfully lives up to its promise.


Neta Riskin, Golo Euler, Hana Laslo, Hana Rieber, Kosta Kaplen, Romi Abulafia, Dovaleh Reiser, Alma Ferreras, Dedi Amrami, Kerstin Stutterheim, Oleg Levin, Bernadette Knoller, Nora Lene Goodman. (German, Hebrew, English, Yiddish dialogue)

An Israeli grad student in Berlin doing her thesis on untranslatable words finds that returning home from abroad isn’t quite the comfort she imagined in Ester Amrami’s enjoyable but slight feature helming debut, “Anywhere Else.” As an Israeli in Berlin herself, Amrami knows whence she films, and playing with notions of translation and transplantation is a clever way of capturing the protagonist’s feeling of not belonging. However, far more could have been done with the concept, and the script only fitfully lives up to its promise. German play could see moderate biz, and Jewish-Israeli showcases will come calling.

Everything’s stressing out 33-year-old Noa (Neta Riskin): Her dissertation funding doesn’t come through, her adviser questions her scientific method, things are tense with her trombonist b.f., Joerg (Golo Euler), and Berlin’s constant gray is getting her down. Needing the consoling warmth of the primal nest, she flies home on a whim for a short vacation. Hers is a stereotypical bickering Israeli family: Mom Rachel (Hana Laslo, “Free Zone”) is an interfering “balabusta,” older sis Netta is a “farbissiner,” dad Yossi (Dovaleh Reiser) has just finished building a security shelter in the garden, and younger brother Dudi (Kosta Kaplan) isn’t too happy in the army.

The one person whose love feels unconditional is Yiddishe bubbe Henja (Hana Rieber), but then she gets sick and Noa plans her return to Berlin. Joerg, looking to patch things up, arrives unannounced on National Memorial Day, when the whole country is in an even more heightened emotional state than usual. No one’s too happy having Noa’s German b.f. visiting, especially when there’s nice Jewish doctor Yoav (Dedi Amrami) in the wings. With everything in crisis, Noa’s sense of belonging is thrown into a tailspin.

The idea of a dissertation on untranslatable words is inspired: Amrami includes Noa’s filmed interviews with native speakers discussing terms like the Portuguese “saudade” and the Arabic “toqborni.” At the start, each untranslatable word appears to have a connection to Noa’s mindset, but the parallels become more and more tenuous, and Amrami can’t sustain the idea in an insightful way. She also seems uncertain of her message: Are people as incapable of translocation as words? Or is displacement a byproduct of the modern age, which seems to be applicable to Henja, a multilingual Polish Holocaust survivor still most comfortable with Yiddish? Ambiguity, even contradiction, would be OK if presented in a more considered manner.

Riskin, holding her own against the larger-than-life (in a good way) Laslo, is unafraid to portray Noa as an often unpleasant figure whose moodiness reflects a rocky transition out of immaturity. Euler, however, is far too vanilla as Joerg, and there’s no chemistry between the two, in contrast with the prickly family dynamics. Johannes Praus’ exploratory camera shows an interest in closeups and effects of light, nicely balanced with shots that establish characters in connection with others. A youth award in Berlin, “Dialogue en perspective,” says as much about the earnestness of contempo Germany’s philo-Semitism as about the pic’s ability to engage in cross-cultural dialogue.

Popular on Variety

Film Review: 'Anywhere Else'

Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Perspektive Deutsches Kino), Feb. 14, 2014. Running time: 85 MIN. Original title: “Anderswo”


(Germany) A Dirk Manthey Film presentation of a Dirk Manthey Film, HFF “Konrad Wolf,” Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg, Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk production, in association with RailRoad Films. Produced by Dirk Manthey. Executive producer, Laura Machutta.


Directed by Ester Amrami. Screenplay, Momme Peters, Amrami. Camera (color), Johannes Praus; editor, Osnat Michaeli; music, Fabrizio Tentoni; production designers, Dina Kornveits, Ella Spector; costume designers, Keren Eyal Melamed, Nadja Lienig; sound (5.1), Philipp Schwabe, Linus Nickl, Nils Vogel; line producer, Holger Lochau; associate producers, Shalom Goodman, Jonathan Doweck; assistant directors, Gilad Deutsch, Silvia Pernegger.


Neta Riskin, Golo Euler, Hana Laslo, Hana Rieber, Kosta Kaplen, Romi Abulafia, Dovaleh Reiser, Alma Ferreras, Dedi Amrami, Kerstin Stutterheim, Oleg Levin, Bernadette Knoller, Nora Lene Goodman. (German, Hebrew, English, Yiddish dialogue)

More Film

  • "Jade Dynasty" in front at the

    China Box Office: 'Jade Dynasty' in Front Ahead of Mixed Competition

    With “Jade Dynasty” out front, Chinese action and Asian animation films led the way at the China box office over the past weekend, while the few American titles in play have failed to attract many moviegoers. Chinese action fantasy “Jade Dynasty” led the weekend box office in its debut with $38.1 million, figures from consultancy [...]

  • The Painted Bird

    Venice Competition Film 'The Painted Bird' Is Czech Entry in Oscar Race

    Václav Marhoul’s “The Painted Bird,” which world premiered at the Venice Film Festival in the main competition and also played at the Toronto Film Festival in Special Presentations, has been selected as the Czech Republic’s entry for the 92nd Academy Awards in the international feature film category. The pic follows the journey of an unnamed [...]

  • Pakistan Picks Freshman Effort 'Laal Kabootar'

    Pakistan Picks Freshman Effort 'Laal Kabootar' as Its Oscar Entry

    Pakistan’s Academy Selection Committee has chosen “Laal Kabootar” as its candidate for the Oscars’ international feature film category. Directed by first-time helmer Kamal Khan, the gangland thriller set in Karachi’s underbelly follows the events that transpire when a woman in search of her husband’s killer is thrown together with a cab driver and petty criminal [...]

  • Atlantis

    Toronto Film Review: 'Atlantis'

    “It took you 10 years to cleanse this region of Soviet propaganda and myths,” says one character to another in “Atlantis,” going on to suggest that the devastation now left behind may never be “cleansed” at all. A strikingly bleak vision of a near future in which Ukraine has won its war with Russia but [...]

  • Beyonce Knowles'The Lion King' film premiere,

    ABC Announces Behind-the-Scenes Special for Beyoncé's 'Lion King' LP

    ABC has announced a new behind-the-scenes look into the making of Beyoncé’s “The Lion King: The Gift” LP, which is set to air September 16 on ABC at 10 p.m. EST. Titled “Beyoncé Presents: Making the Gift,” the new hour-long special will allow viewers to “experience the process” behind the “Lion King” companion album, according [...]

  • Jason Lei Howden, Samara Weaving and

    Daniel Radcliffe On Acting With Weapons Nailed To Your Hands

    How did “Guns Akimbo” director and writer Jason Lei Howden convince Daniel Radcliffe to play a character with guns nailed to his hands? Easy, he sent him the script. Radcliffe joined Howden and “Ready or Not’s” breakout star Samara Weaving in the Variety’s Toronto Film Festival studio, presented by AT&T to talk the limits of [...]

  • Box Office: It Chapter Two Maintains

    Box Office: 'It: Chapter Two' Continues International Reign With $47 Million

    Pennywise’s reign of terror hasn’t wavered: Warner Bros.’ “It Chapter Two” maintained first place on box office charts, led by another strong showing overseas. The sequel, based on Stephen King’s horror novel, generated another $47 million at the international box office for a foreign tally of $169 million. After two weeks of release, “It Chapter [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content