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WGUC Reviews

Young Goethe in Love

Young Goethe in Love
Music Box Films
Review by: Larry Thomas

In the film Young Goethe In Love, the famous German poet and playwright, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, was indeed too young when he was in love. And as in many tales of the seventeen hundreds, parents had the most uncanny knack at screwing up the budding relationships of their offspring.

Alexander Fehling , who was one of the Inglourious Basterds in the film by that name, is fine as the still-unknown Goethe. His father, a respected jurist, insists on his son apprenticing in a small-town law firm, because, well…because poetry and writing were just not notable professions for serious minded individuals. Not to mention that Goethe’s earliest writings were not very good, and nobody wanted to read them. While trying to become an acceptable lawyer, Goethe encounters Lotte at a party. As in films where romance is a complete character on its own, he is summarily smitten with this titian-tressed goddess with a dimple that would make even Kirk Douglas envious.

Unbeknownst to either of them, Lotte’s father has designs on arranging a marriage for his daughter that will have their large family secure for some time to come. The object of his matchmaking is Albert Kestner, who also happens to be Goethe’s superior at the law firm. Kestner is played by the superb Mauritz Bleibtreu (pron More-its Blibe-troy), who made a big splash in this country about ten years ago with his role of Mannie in Run, Lola, Run.

You don’t need to be a PhD in history, nor a brainiac in romance fiction to guess the twists and turns of the plot. Even though the conclusion may not have been the one written by you or I, it’s still satisfying as to the resolution of the characters.

Young Goethe In Love was written and directed by Phillip Stoezel who performed the same chores on 2009’s North Face, about the Nazi’s attempt to be the first to climb the North Face of the Eiger during World War Two. North Face was good enough to make by ten best list of that year.

Another big plus for this film is the delightful score by Ingo Frenzel. It’s a mix of baroque, romantic, and just downright lovely musical motifs, which fit the action perfectly.

And now for the bad news: after waxing poetically about this nice little film, you can’t see it. It opened last Friday, March 9th at the Mariemont Theatre. Following the last performance on Thursday, March 16th, it was gone. My guess is that the turnout over the first weekend was not substantial enough to warrant keeping it, even though word of mouth should have been good. And therein lies part of the problem with film booking and exhibition these days: almost everything is determined by the results, or lack of same, during the first weekend. It certainly happens with big-budget blockbusters, and it also applies to small art house films as well. So, if you notice a film that you never heard of, but may have an interest in, go see it the first weekend. If it’s as good as Young Goethe In Love, and you help extend the run so others may enjoy the film, then you’ve done your good deed for the week. For now, if you want to catch up with Young Goethe In Love, it will require checking your Netflix account to see if they have it available.


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