Directed by: Ralf Huettner
Written by: Florian David Fitz
Produced by: Viola Jäger, Harald Kügler
Starring: Florian David Fitz, Karoline Herfurth, Heino Ferch, Robert Gellner, Katharina Müller-Elmau
Language: German with English subtitles
Run Time: 96 minutes
Did you hear the one about the man with tourette’s, an anorexic woman and the guy with ocd? No? Well there’s this guy with tourette’s, an anorexic woman and a guy with ocd who escape a mental institution. They steal their psychiatrist’s car and drive from Germany to Italy to dispose of a tuna can filled with the ashes of tourette’s guy’s mom. On the way they have adventures, find love and of course escape the evil psychiatrist and tourette’s guy’s grumpy father. It all sounds like a bad joke, which it very well could be, but it’s also an award winning movie in Germany. Vincent Wants to Sea isn’t as bad as the joke sounds but it isn’t anywhere near what an award winning masterpiece should be.
The big problem with Vincent Wants to Sea is that the characters aren’t consistent, aren’t believable and worst of all, are extremely predictable. Vincent’s (the guy with tourette’s syndrome) tics aren’t uncontrolled and in fact only come at a time when the movie demands it. Instead of having random movements or outbursts throughout the film, his symptoms all but disappear during parts of the movie and reappear when it’s comedic and convenient. It’s the same way with Marie, the anorexic girl, who really shows no symptoms of her condition aside from being thin for most of the movie. Marie’s silly, has lots of energy and a great sense of humor which doesn’t really seem very realistic for a girl who’s supposedly so starved her body is about to fail. Sadly, the potential that lies in all of the characters is largely ignored and instead is turned into a common parody of what their mental illnesses are. The lack of in depth character development is understandable though; after all, if the characters seemed somewhat real it would transform a feel good drama into a cringe-worthy comedy.
The soundtrack is another huge piece of the puzzle that makes the movie seem extremely scripted. It follows the same formula of bland cheesy music at all of the right times that you’d see in any chick flick or trendy drama. As soon as the intro starts you can queue the acoustic guitar and the bad lyrics sung by a middle aged man in Birkenstocks that plays on light rock stations. Again, the music reflects a striking lack of originality and uses the very same themes that are used in hundreds of other movies. Perhaps the reason why all of the song’s lyrics are in English is to fool a German audience into thinking they aren’t as bad as they are but that’s just a theory. All theories aside, the music just reflects the current trend that’s seen in romantic movies and as pleasurable as it is to some listeners; still offers nothing new or innovative to the film.
Vincent Wants to Sea does have a redeeming quality, namely the scenery photography. The landscape shots are breathtaking and indeed make the viewer want to retrace the steps of the characters in the movie. Even though there are some goofy shots, one where all the protagonists sit on a cross overlooking a mountain, the fact remains that there is real natural beauty captured in the film.
Just looking at the poster of Vincent Wants to Sea, where Vincent is standing with his back turned to the camera and looking at the ocean, says exactly what kind of movie it is, a feel good drama. The viewer knows just by looking at the poster that there’s going to be love, some silly comedic moments and of course a long journey complete with bonding and healing so in the end it doesn’t really disappoint. Vincent Wants to Sea seems as if it was meant to appeal to the lowest common denominator of audiences who are looking for more of a good time instead of a realistic emotional story. The characters are all likeable and charming but aren’t dysfunctional enough (unless it’s convenient that is) to actually merit them being in a mental institution in the first place. Vincent Wants to Sea is a goofy, stereotypical, easy to vegetate to movie and is therefore pleasurable to watch as long as you don’t expect anything new or groundbreaking.