Berlinale Opens With “The Kindness Of Strangers”

And so, the 69th Berlinale has started. “The Kindness Of Strangers” by Danish director Lone Scherfig has opened the festival which seemed to have a rather tumultuous start because everyone wanted to comment on the fact that this would be Dieter Kosslick‘s last edition after 18 years. But rather than glorifying the past and bathing in plaintiveness, I think it’s pretty pathetic to spread bad and sad vibes at the beginning of this year’s Berlinale. Or is it just the typical German characteristic of bitching about each and everyone?

The Kindness Of Strangers
The Kindness of Strangers Wettbewerb 2019 DNK/CAN/SWE/DEU/FRA 2019 von: Lone Scherfig Zoe Kazan, Tahar Rahim © Per Arnesen

But then again, there is actually a lot to bitch about the opening movie, at least in parts because the film leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Several stories are wounded together, some people accidentally meet again more than once. In a city like New York. Why is a young mother fleeing her volatile husband with their two kids, without any money, with a car only, and decides to go to New York of all places? Some scenes like those in a shelter for the homeless, made me cringe in my seat.

But if you free yourself from the story, from its characters, and decide to bathe in the wonderful pictures which show the beauty of New York City, this movie all of a sudden works pretty well. It doesn’t go beyond the line of kitsch, but it doesn’t showcase any serious storytelling either. But why it should foresee the themes and emphasis of a whole festival’s competition, absolutely escapes me. I think it’s a fair enough opening. Nothing more, nothing less.

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