WIf it were that simple: “A brain with depression, that was like a bike with a broken bottom bracket. You could kick as you wished, but you did not budge. “This is how Höppner's mother explains the problem of his classmate and best friend Frieder, who has attempted suicide. After a stay in psychiatry, Frieder lives together with Höppner in the Auerhaus, a rag-tagged young people's flat in an empty house owned by Frieder's family.
The counterpart to the bottom bracket comparison is the Belgian roundabout, a racing bike formation that takes the four Auerhaus residents on their way to school. The gyroscope is a rotation of the positions where sometimes runs at the top or at the end of the rhombus or on the most vulnerable flank. As long as it goes downhill together, this even works with a broken bottom bracket. Together, the illness of an individual can be kept in check, so the hope of the peloton, which is a disguised support group.
Light-footed, not reckless
Bov Bjerg's novel “Auerhaus” was also a surprise bestseller in 2015 because it made the very weighty and complicated appear very easy and simple. A novel about depression and suicidal tendencies, helplessness and sadness that was entertaining and even funny, light-footed and melancholy at the same time. Lightfootednot frivolous, at best somewhat reckless like his heroes on the threshold of adulthood, before a matriculation exam, which is more important than the high school diploma they still try to make. The crafty story-mechanic Bov Bjerg even managed to construct a kind of happy ending, although the plot itself does not end well and is not even the consolation prize Abi managed.
That “Auerhaus” would be filmed, was only a matter of time, and not only because of the great appeal, the coming-of-age stories in the cinema of “Stand By Me” to “Tschick” in the audience of several generations again and again , Bjerg's novel produced a cinematic-visual effect already during the reading – through effective images and symbolic scenes (like the Belgian gyro in the rain), but also with its chargeable secondary characters like the awkward German teacher Dr. Turnschuh, who goes through the “Werther” for suicide attempt, or the village policeman Bogatzki.
You almost heard the Madness hit “Our House” while reading, which now runs exactly in the film by Neele Leana Vollmar (director and screenplay) for the first display of the building on the soundtrack. The supposedly cinematic nature of Bov Bjerg's writing can also be a trap for an adaptation.
The film sets a fast pace, with the voice of the narrator Höppner the scenes are introduced: a village in the early eighties, the high school on the outskirts, the Psychiatry Black Wood. Even in the prologue, unlike in the book, betrayed that Frieder will kill himself in the end. The somewhat precarious constellation of the friends with their latent rivalry around the class beauty Vera (Luna Wedler) is replaced by purely pragmatic relationships: Frieder (Max von der Groeben) is here simply the labile genius that homework the sexy loser Höppner (Damian Hardung) writes. How and why this WG in the Auerhaus on purely voluntary basis at all, remains unclear. Completely puzzling, which drives Cäcilia (Devrim Lingnau), the violin-playing streetwalker from a better house, than fourth in the bunch.
A strength of the film is the acting representation of the mental illness, its treacherous Fortwirkens under a pacified, almost happy everyday surface. Max von der Groeben describes Frieder as one who is always on the brink and whose closest friends are in the same situation as the audience: they can only guess what it looks like inside. Why, for example, he wants to fell the fir-tree set up by his father for Advent on the village square with his ax. The same applies to the pyromaniac Pauline (Ada Philine Stappenbeck), with whom Frieder experiences something like a momentary happiness. In her illusion and uncompromising she is the most impressive figure in the Auerhaus-cosmos.
It is usually nonsense to accuse a film of deviations or cuts compared to the original, even though it takes a lot of liberties, as in Neele Leana Vollmar, arbitrarily tearing apart chronologies and dialogues and reducing them to the sound of the “Undertones” on a retro-image. Oh, you know, the cute Kreiswehr replacement office!
In this case, however, this leads to a crass trivialization of Bjerg's just yet negotiated problems. The drama of gay Harry, for example, who suddenly moves into the Auerhaus and brings the dangerous adult world of drug trafficking, weapons, prostitution in the harmless-stuffy Dorfjugendszene, is completely downplayed. For example, what pretensions and hiding pressure homosexuality in the province of the 80s meant. Harry's double life on the station toilet is omitted immediately, maybe for reasons of youth protection?
The whole village is here rather a kind of sleepy idyll, with open doors, a sympathetic policeman in the service VW Beetle, the loving mother, which unfortunately has a somehow stupid friend (Milan Peschel may as Proleten stepfather cliché right on the plaster Hauen), the supermarket, where you could steal unnoticed half the establishment. This looks like a Generation Golf theme park, with streets that you never see a car on. Even in the morning before school, the four Auerhäusler are the only people far and wide. Probably the budget has no longer given to vintage cars and extras.
The bar is torn
That would be to get over, the film would not tear at the most sensitive point the – admittedly high – latte of the book: the core issue of depression. It's just not that this disease was a broken bottom bracket that could easily be repaired that way. As Höppner explains in the book, it is clear to him that he, as an outsider, actually has no idea. “Auerhaus” tells of a failure, or at least of the subjective feeling of having failed. Even if Frieder acquits his friends in advance, the survivors will always blame themselves for not having prevented suicide.
The film, on the other hand, simply assumes that any attempt to discourage a suicidal person from suicide is useless anyway. But the fact that the causes are ultimately in the dark does not mean that there is none and that they can not be fought. Due to the unclear and changed time structure, the film suppresses the fact that the Auerhaus community functioned as a temporary shelter, not only for Frieder.
The book goes after the dramatic escalation with police use of each of his ways; Höppner to Berlin to avoid the Bundeswehr, Frieder to apprenticeship in a small town, where he later still takes the deadly dose of tablets. In the movie he takes his own life in the Auerhaus, which literally betrays the title idea of the book.
In the house there is a room without a window, which, according to Frieder's express instructions, nobody is allowed to live there. It turns out only after his death that it was his nursery. The Auerhaus was built around an early trauma like a defensive spell; also Frieder's obsessive hatred of the father finds here a possible explanation, without which would be spelled out. In the film, however, one does not understand why Frieder always carries an ax with him. Simply crazy!
Bov Bjerg succeeds in a virtuoso way to balance the pain, the guilt, the grief with a sense of happiness, which only in hindsight, in memory of the short, so catastrophically ending time in the Auerhaus can release. In the film, the whole meaning of life seems to lie solely in losing its virginity. As a message remains: a strange time, these eighties, how good that they are over! In fact, “Auerhaus” tells of the desperate, but not pointless struggle against the feeling of finding no way out of the here and now, wherever, however, whenever.
Do you have suicidal thoughts, or have you found them with a relative? Telephone counseling offers help: Anonymous advice is available around the clock under the free numbers 0800/111 0 111 and 0800/111 0 222. A consultation over the Internet is also possible under http://www.telefonseelsorge.de. A list of nationwide aid agencies can be found on the website of the German Society for Suicide Prevention: https://www.suizidprophylaxe.de/hilfsangebote/adressen/,
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