Your best years |

Content / criticism

“Your best years” // Start of Germany: November 29, 1999 (ZDF)

In the life of Vera Kemp (Martina Gedeck) nothing is missing: She is happily married, has a son, and financially, the company heiress is well looked after, while she treats herself to a personal dream with the publication of art books. But all of this threatens to collapse when she finds out on her birthday of all things that her husband Manfred (Tobias Moretti) should have a lover. And that’s just the beginning of a whole series of setbacks that she has to deal with. Not only that her private life is in ruins, she now also has to fight for the survival of her company, in which she was not overly interested for a long time …

Life is crap

There are phases in life when the whole world seems to have conspired against you. Everything you do somehow goes wrong. And even if you keep very still, it patters down on you. Your best years tells of such a phase when the protagonist has to endure one test after the other. And whenever you think that she has now got it under control, the next blow follows. A blow that can come from anywhere: Sometimes she has to discover that she knows a lot less about life and people than she always thought. Sometimes it is “just” a cruel stroke of fate, in the wrong place at the wrong time.

While this feeling that everyone is beating you up should be understood quite universally, one can put one or the other question mark behind the concrete nuisance of Vera Kemp. It can happen once in a while that one’s own husband is cheating. The same applies to the strokes of fate that she has to deal with. In combination, on the other hand, that’s a bit much. And when the aspect of the threat of company loss is added later, along with further bitter insights, the last ones should also be clear: With a concept like credibility, you need to Your best years not even to arrive. This is more like a soap opera crossed with a conspiracy thriller.

Sinister to surreal

In fact, right from the start, the film leaves no doubt that everything is going to continue very badly. Director Dominik Graf (Fabian or The Walk to the Dogs) tinkers with an atmosphere of discomfort, doubt or even despair. The more time we spend with the protagonist, the gloomier the prospects. But everything becomes all the more strange. As if the story drawn by the hair weren’t enough reason to feel transported into a parallel world, the filmmaker gives his TV drama an unreal atmosphere that sometimes even turns slightly into the surreal. There are no people here, only wandering ghosts. The people whom the unfortunate lost meets are like demons and whispered shadows, with whom you never know what is real and what is not.

As a paranoia thriller, it could have been quite exciting. Instead, it should Your best years but be a drama that tells of the protagonist’s disintegration as well as of her emancipation. The former fits very well, also because of the cast: Years later, Martina Gedeck showed in The wallhow a person slowly collapses through isolation. In part, this is also the case here, since Vera, apart from Andreas Wolgast (Tim Bergmann) has no one to stand by her. And if you have the feeling that everyone is against you and you are all alone, you can lose your mind. But the film isn’t particularly consistent when it comes to this topic. Instead, the result is a strange mishmash of loss and self-assertion, which is atmospherically interesting, but remains too confused in terms of content and doesn’t really say anything. A lot is tackled here, but then dropped again. At some point it will all be over, but nothing tangible would have come out of it.


OT: “Your best years”
Land: Germany
Year: 1999
Director: Dominik Graf
Script: Markus Busch, Bernd Schwamm
Music: Dieter Schleip
Camera: Benedict Neuenfels
Occupation: Martina Gedeck, Tobias Moretti, Carla Hagen, Tim Bergmann, Wolfgang Hinze, Mona Seefried, Frederic Welter

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