“Erhebe mich wie eine Welle, trag mich wie Wolken, wie ein Blatt, bevor ich blutend auf des Lebens Dornen niedersinke …”
(“Raise me like a wave, carry me like clouds, like a leaf, before I sink down bleeding on the thorns of life …”)
The residents of their village think that Phil’s family is strange. Upon return from summer camp, he and his sister become more and more estranged with a secret hanging between them, a secret involving their emotionally unstable mother. Lonely and in desperate need of company, Phil falls in love with the new boy in town, Nicholas. With his evolving world, he will discover who really are the most important persons in his life.
Adopted from Andreas Steinhofel’s award-winning novel, “Die Mitte der Welt” (The Center of the World) is as complex and honest as the coming-of-age book.
“Die Mitte der Welt” tells the story of Phil (Louis Hofmann) who was greeted by changes upon returning to his hometown. Phil as a narrator describes his family as an outsider, with his emotionally unstable mother Glass (Sabine Timoteo) well-known in town. Then there’s his sister Dianne (Ada Philine Stappenbeck) and her secret which kept them apart after being close when they were kids. Unlike the book, the focus mainly of the movie is Phil’s relationship with Nicholas (Jannik Schümann).
There’s too much cliche in this movie from flashbacks of Phil and his sister’s childhood, to the lake scenes which might make the audience gag. But what I love about the “Die Mitte der Welt” is the brilliantly portrayed relationship of Phil with his family, his best friend, and Nicholas. Complex and interesting, it captured the thing we like about the book: Phil’s loneliness and his desire to be seen and loved. There’s simplicity on how director Jakob Erwa showed a teenager’s story. It’s not your typical YA drama or some gay movie exploiting bed scenes for popularity. Rather, Erwa just let the connection between Hofmann and Schuemann shine, and it showed on screen. Therein lies the strength of this movie.
There are many plots in this movie that can confuse the hell out of the audience. Despite focusing on the gay relationship aspect of the story, “Die Mitte der Welt” makes clear its intention: the central character’s realization on who should be important in his life, who are the persons that should be in the center of his world.
Mortal Worthy (3 out of 5 stars). The main success of “Die Mitte der Welt” is that it captured the emotionally charged teenage drama of the book. Phil narrating the story is a way to be faithful with the soul of the book, but the varying plots, and Erwa’s failure to seamlessly unite these plots to one clear story, throws the movie into moments of confusion.