EUFF 2018 Review: “Welcome to Germany” (2016) ★★★★

Watching movies and participating in someone’s life remotely is an absolute privilege, as each story has its own unique lesson to deliver. “Welcome to Germany” might be a comedy that talks about one German family that could be easily compared to the Adams family, but with no dead bodies or zombies walking around. But this family does what most us of would never do – they easily break stereotypes of falsely known facts about refugees, in this case a Muslim one, and give him love, care, respect and mutual appreciation. Because that is what truly humble and kind people do.

Dr. Richard Hartmann (Heiner Lauterbach) and his wife Angelika (Senta Berger) are going through marriage crisis even though they don’t admit that to each other. Not yet, at least. Their grown up children have chosen their own paths to follow – Philipp (Florian David Fitz) is a single father who tries to manage the job of a corporate lawyer while his little son learns to grow without him. Sofie (Palina Rojinski) is a special case. She is extremely romantic and in a constant wait for her prince charming. The entire Hartmann family has everything to fulfil their life. But what they had, how they lived their life or who they really are changes with the appearance of Diallo (Eric Kabongo), a Nigerian refugee, a Muslim who comes to the Hartmanns in order to integrate into the new society faster.

Diallo, unfortunately, we learn soon, has no family member surviving after a massacre. He hopes to get legal status in Germany and become a part of the country he has chosen to live in. While he awaits the decision, an opportunity comes in the face of the Hartmann family, rather Angelika, who suddenly decides to help a refugee by taking one to her home, help adapt into the society, teach the language, and so on. At first, the family was not excited about her decision, however, they quickly gave up on the idea of fighting her, as the decision she made was final and non-negotiable.

The character development created/written by Simon Verhoeven is outstanding. With so many little details, it gives the viewer the opportunity to focus on the story more thoroughly. For instance, the Hartmann family is a box of unpredictable surprises. But Diallo is not like that. He has his own culture. His values are way different from the Western world. Also, the fact that he tried to help Sofie to find the love of her life, or hiding alcohol from Angelika, or lecturing Richard about his marriage is what makes Diallo worth cheering for. He is kind and generous. His love is unconditional. He deserves every goodness and opportunity life brings to him. But there is one problem – immigration officers and the judge think otherwise.

In the end, “Welcome to Germany” is the story of everyday life we know nothing about. The struggle refugees go through, the constant stress due to uncertainty and neglect from the government. Indeed, not every one is nice, but the majority is, and there should be no doubt about that. With Verhoeven’s piece, we truly come closer to understanding why it’s important for us to unite in the light of the refugee crisis taking place all over the world. And to be frank, this particular film is a human story, a character study that should be presented to every single immigration officer before they begin looking at any refugee case. But through a deeply moving storyline and superbly written lines, “Welcome to Germany” turns out to be a great comedy as well, through what we learn once again that there should be no such thing as a border. The world belongs to us and the door we try to close on others should always remain open. Because we care and sharing, as you know, means caring.



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