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Andreas Dresen is, beyond any doubt, the German filmmaker whose movies have given me the most joy over the last years. Not just joy about seeing one particularly good film, but even more: joy about the state of German cinema. A cinema industry that is able to have films like “Halbe Treppe”, “Herr Wichmann von der CDU” and “Willenbrock” produced in such a short period of time must be a good industry, indeed. There have been films by German authors in the last decade that may have equalled the qualities of the Dresen oeuvre (those by Hans-Christian Schmid, and by Christian Paetzold, in particular) – but save the time for looking for better films, because a film cannot be better than “Halbe Treppe”. Period.
Dresen’s latest film about two merry losers in the not-so-jolly areas of Berlin is definitely in line with this established quality. The characters are strong and they are all very sympathetic, easy to understand and easier to like the way you like acquaintances: by assuming that they are good people. Dwelling into the deeper layers may bring about some not so pleasant characteristics (such as the aggression upon being confronted with one’s own suppressed alcoholism and the fact that this puts you into a line with people with whom you never wanted to identify), but that is just the way it is with acquaintances: how many people do you need to meet in order to find someone you really trust and like in all his / her ways?
When you follow these characters through their summer, you learn about the lightness of being, about the unpleasant sides of people (old and young), about – that’s what I liked most – the humanity rule number 1: that never mind what happens and how somebody behaves, you should always be prepared to allow for a second chance, to understand that you are not the perfect morality instance yourself, to just go on and hope for a happier instance around the corner.
I admit that the girls that are at the centre of “Sommer…” are not half as interesting to me as the people from “Halbe Treppe” or as “Willenbrock”. They story, to be honest, has too much of the partnership hysteria that apparently is a must in today’s city life. But as that’s the way it is, and as Dresen and his author manage to capture that way in a very lively fashion, it is still a great pleasure watching it. Berlin fans will also like the city images. I have to say it’s not a Berlin film, it could play anywhere where dull surroundings meet flickers of hope.

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