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The better ones of the new generation of German filmmakers are those who are unsentimental. Andreas Dresen might be the best of them, and when it comes to territory crying for sentimentality, he steps into it and plays it straight like few others could. He did that in “Wolke 9 / Cloud 9” where he depicted the love and sex life of old people, and where he managed to be as serious, straightforward, funny and sometimes cruel as life requires it with a love story between people over 80. Now in “Stopped on Track” he does it again, and the story is now even closer to death: it is about dying. In the first minutes of the film, Frank learns that he will probably die of a brain tumor. The film shows how that happens. You don’t need to give a spoiler alert to say that in a serious film by a serious film-maker, there will be no miracle cure, there will be no bucket list of great things to be done, there will not be the insight into the meaning of life just before it all ends. Instead, the family is confronted with a degenerating husband and father, being increasingly an burden on their lives through his tumor-induced change of character. These are very real people in very real situations, and very rarely does reality bring about salvation the easy way. The way they act and react, how they are trying to create a comfortable environment for Frank, while sometimes admitting that his death would be so much of a relief. There is no spectacle in this, other than the realisation that this, exactly this, may happen to any of us at any time, and the film raises the question whether we are prepared for either role, the patient or the family. In its sobriety, its succumbing to the facts of life and death, I find this a very pleasant film to watch. We see that nobody is perfectly prepared, but everybody is able to make an effort and to remain (or become) a good person when faced with dying and death. Quite a message, actually, for a film that wants nothing less than being a “message film”.

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/halt_auf_freier_strecke_2011/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1780856/

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