It’s almost impossible to go into a DVD store in Germany, even in Saturn’s vast stores, and find any thing other than American films dubbed into German. But as luck would have it I found an interesting movie that was made and filmed there and had ‘Englisch untertitels’. Was Bleibt (2012) has only been shown in the UK at the 2012 Cambridge Film Festival under the title Home for the Weekend, although the direct German translation is I believe What Remains which depicts this story of a fractured upper middle class family far better than the American title.
The first person we meet is Marko, who is in his mid-thirties and has had his first book published, he lives in Berlin with his wife and young son Zowie. But it would appear that his marriage is going through a transitional period. He visits the affluent Gitte and Günter for a family weekend taking along their grandchild. Marko’s younger brother Jakob lives not far from his parents. His dentist business and the building of his house have been partly financed by his father. The gathering is to celebrate the sale of Günter’s publishing business, which means that he can look forward to a comfortable retirement with his wife. This planned family get-together begins to unravel when Gitte, who has been mentally unstable since the boys were children, announces that for the first time in a very long time she is coming off her medication and hopes she can now be treated like an ordinary member of the family instead of them tiptoeing around her and treating her with kid gloves. This announcement does not receive the response she expected and sparks unsuspecting repercussions and rocks the thin veneer of family respectability.
Hans-Christian Schmid has directed a restrained, sensitive and meaningful drama that was a hit on the festival circuit but will probably never have a general release in the UK. This is a real shame and as one critic remarked if it was an American Independent movie with a bankable cast it would have no problem getting seen. This beautifully photographed and polished movie offers some fine acting especially from Lars Eldinger who plays Marko. The only actor in this European drama that you may be familiar with is Corinna Harfouch who plays Gitte Heidtmann. You may remember she played Magda Goebbels who sacrificed her children for the Third Reich in Oliver Hirschbiegels Downfall (2004) the film that depicted the final days of Adolf Hitler. Also she appeared in Atomised (2006) and 2008’s Perfume: The Story of a Murderer.