Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, June 21, 2018


Jannis Niewohner
JONATHAN (2016). Director: Piotr J. Lewandowski.

Jonathan (Jannis Niewohner) lives on a farm in Germany where he takes care of his father, Burghardt (Andre Hennicke), who is dying of skin cancer. Jonathan gets little help from his Aunt Martha (Barbara Auer), a bitter woman who has had something against her brother for years. Then the cause of this tension appears in the form of Ron (Thomas Sarbacher), a handsome old friend of Burghardt's who moves in with the family. Now what's going on here? Yes, this is yet another movie in which a "self-hating homo" makes a decision to marry a woman and it has negative consequences for virtually everyone. Jonathan won't be satisfied until he gets answers from his father about his mother, whom he barely knew before she died, but when he finds out Ron was Burghardt's lover (apparently Martha had a thing for Ron as well), he isn't at all pleased. Jonathan is well-acted and handsomely produced, with excellent photography and a sensitive score, but it is also slow and rather contrived, and the script seems twenty years old. It's another movie in which the characters avoid confrontations and really talking to one another because the filmmakers fear the movie will come off like a soap opera. Frankly, a little dramatic soap opera-ing might have helped this picture, which is a little too low-key. Some viewers were mightily disappointed that Niewohmer, the sexiest German actor to come down the pike since Horst Buchhollz, only gets to do love scenes with the lady caregiver (their relationship is another contrived development); however, the two gay lovers do get it on in a hospital bed at one point.

Verdict: Comes so close to being special but misses the boat. **1/2.

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