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When Will It Be Again Like It Never Was Before
Wann wird es endlich wieder so, wie es nie war

Directed by Sonja Heiss
Produced by Maren Ade, Jonas Dornbach, and Janine Jackowski
Written by Sonja Heiss, Lars Hubrich, and Joachim Meyerhoff
With: Devid Striesow, Laura Tonke, Arsseni Bultmann, Pola Geiger, Camille Moltzen, Casper von Bülow, Merlin Rose, Axel Milberg, Sarah Bauerett, Esther Bechtold, and Sophie Hutter
Cinematography: Manuel Dacosse
Music: Dickon Hinchliffe
Runtime: 116 min
Release Date: 23 February 2023
Aspect Ratio: 2.35 : 1
Color: Color

Sonja Heiss's wonderful adaptation of Joachim Meyerhoff's autobiographical novel is a unique coming-of-age story about the youngest of three boys growing up on the grounds of a large German psychiatric hospital. For teenage Joachim (a terrific Arsseni Bultmann), a childhood spent surrounded by the residents of a mental institution is one of the more calming aspects of life since the patients treat him more like family than his dickish older brothers. His father, the institution's director, is more focused on his career than his family, and his artistically-minded mother is a warm and kind homemaker who dreams of other things. The story takes place over three stages of Joachim's life during a year in each of three distinct decades: the 1970s, '80s, and '90s. While the actors playing the young people change, the parents are always played by the excellent Laura Tonke and Devid Striesow. Apart from their unusual home, the ups and downs of this family's existence are not all that different from most folks, which is why the film is both so captivating and so relatable. Watching the film, I couldn't help thinking about John Irving's 1981 novel The Hotel New Hampshire and wishing someone would get around to taking another crack at adapting that book into a good movie.

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A captivating cast creates instantly relatable, lived-in characters in this well-crafted coming-of-age story about growing up on the grounds of a large German psychiatric hospital as the son of the institution's director.