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KIFF Movie Review: Vincent Wants to Sea

October 14, 2011

Vincent Wants to Sea is a sugary-sweet German film, directed by Ralf Huettner, about psychological disorders and how through friendship, self-determination and travel one’s obstacles have the potential to be won. The pun-infused title expresses not only that Vincent wants to go to the sea, but also that he wants to “see” aka learn, understand, and/or grow. Yes, I recognize that it is a hokey title, and if we are being completely honest it’s a hokey plot, but overall it works.

The film centers around Vincent (Florian David Fitz) a 27 year-old man who suffers from Tourette’s syndrome. His mother has recently passed away due to complications of her alcoholism and his father shows very little empathy because soon after the funeral, he ships Vincent to the nearest institution. It is a home where Vincent can learn about how to deal with his ticks and his father can pretend like nothing is actually wrong.

It is here that Vincent meets future buddies: a crush-worthy anorexic named Marie (Karoline Herfurth) and Alexander (Johannes Allmayer), his obsessive-compulsive roommate. However, before Vincent even has an opportunity to get settled into his new home, Marie suggests a journey. Vincent proposesItaly(the locale his mother wished her ashes be laid to rest), so potential lovebirds begin their adventure in a stolen car along with their luggage: a disgruntled (and kidnapped) Alexander.

As with most road movies, they learn a lot about themselves as the miles trickle by on the speedometer. There are comedic antics, laws that are broken, romantic rendezvous, and a handful of confrontations that occur. The resident psychiatrist (Katharina Müller-Elmau) and Vincent’s father (Heino Ferch) even chase after the team in an attempt to bring them back without lawful intervention.

Cheesy as all of this sounds though, before the conclusion of the film I just didn’t care. Yes, there is plenty of predictability, and lot of  obvious plots devices, but somehow I pushed all of this aside because the characters, the acting, and the dialogue are really quite good. Now I readily admit that the film will not work for everyone and it might actually piss a few people off with its simplicity, but, I kind of liked it. It’s not high art, but I cared about the characters and not once did I look at my watch. It is a well-crafted, sweet, endearing film that even has a few genuinely funny moments. Honestly, I may have found myself misty-eyed once or twice. Also, it doesn’t hurt that it is filmed throughout the mountainous country-sides of Italy and Germany. It is as romantic in its cinematography as it is in its idealism.

I will not pretend that Vincent Wants to Sea is comparable to a masterpiece like Cuckoo’s Nest. There is nothing mind-altering about how these people cope with their ailments nor are there any grandiose statements about hospitals and/or their in-patient care. I’m also still not entirely sure how a single road trip can help someone overcome a crippling disability, but who needs any of that medical mumbo-jumbo. This is not a complicated film, nor is it about the reality of psychological illnesses. Instead, it is a fairytale about having faith and optimism in one’s self and sometimes a little melodramatic hopefulness can be exactly what the doctor ordered. 

 3 out of 5 stars 

Vincent Wants to Sea is directed by Ralf Huettner. Starring: Florian David Fitz, Karoline Herfurth, Johannes Allmayer, Heino Ferch and Katharina Müller-Elmau.


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