04th Nov2020

‘Es ist zu deinem Besten (It is For Your Own Good)’ Review

by Chris Thomas

Stars: Natalia Avelon, Matthias Bundschuh, Inka Friedrich, Lisa-Marie Koroll, Heiner Lauterbach, Junis Marlon, Jacob Matschenz, Andreas Pietschmann, Lisa Maria Potthoff, Marie-Lou Sellem | Written by Hans G. Raeth, Felix Starck | Directed by Marc Rothemund

Here in Germany, we headed back into what has been described as a “soft” lockdown on Monday. But before this, as it was my wedding anniversary, and as we had a babysitter for the first time since baby number 2 was delivered by the stork, we decided to get down our local cinema, while we could. My wife and I (and 4 other people) saw the German language film Es ist zu deinem Besten (It is For Your Own Good) and it was rather fun.

I appreciate this is going to be rather niche, given this is an English language site, but as I physically went to the cinema I feel this needs to be celebrated, given what is going on in the world.

It is For Your Own Good kicks off with a father of a bride, practicing his wedding speech. He says it is going to be the third best day of his life, but his heart is not in it. This dream wedding is then broken up, by a handsome ginger man, bounding out of his cheap car to profess his love to the beautiful bride to be. The father of the bride to be looks aghast. He looks more aghast when she takes his hand, gets in the beat-up old banger and absconds. Leaving Papa to go back into the magnificent church to explain that the wedding is off.

This then kickstarts three, vastly different, brother in laws to make a deal to each help rid each other of the men who are in their respective daughters’ lives. It is three strangers on a train. 3 relationships and 3 love assassins. What could possibly go wrong? Well, it turns out, quite a lot.

Our three dads are archetypes that are well acted enough to allow me to ignore the obvious inelegance of the basic setup. One dad is the rich, arrogant banker, another is lacking in brains but makes up for it in bald-headed, boiling anger. The third is the affable, trying to keep everyone happy and failing to do so. His biggest downfall seems to be he wants to be his daughter’s friend, rather than her Dad.

Our arrogant banker dad’s daughter is predictably now in a relationship with an alternative Socialist who dislikes capitalism and wealth and does not respect the old man’s many conventional achievements. Our dad, lacking in brains (Karl- Heinz, or “Helle”, as he insists on being called), visits his daughter at the hipster café she is working in, part time. In doing so he bumps into a handsome fella he recognises from school. He is far less pleased to see him when he realises his peer is there because he is dating his daughter. The man also turns out to be an art photographer, who has intimately included the daughter in his works. Cue suitably bald-headed boiling point.
Our nice, albeit ineffectual, brother in law is tormented by his daughter’s love, a weed dealing dog owner. He is the nicest of the three, but also the most repressed.

Naturally, whether it is buying cocaine, drugging young men, or straight out attacking them, nothing in the dad’s plotting ever furthers their cause. Everything rather predictably makes the situation far worse, to the point they are forced to analyse themselves, more than the person they are dramatically hounding. The schemes go badly awry, as we might expect but the brothers in law, who, to varying levels dislike each other in the opening act build a real brotherhood in their combined and increasing misery.

Es ist zu deinem Besten (It is For Your Own Good) is extremely slick, well made, and well-acted. The cast feed off each other’s energy and we get some excellent comic scenes of people embarrassing themselves. The film also serves as a good advert for Berlin.

The ending, is predictably, one of acceptance. Both of self and of their daughter’s choices. The ending is far neater than real life might be. But it is a very well-made film that allowed me to switch my brain off and just enjoy an unlikely tale for 2 hours. The title It is For Your Own Good is superficially referring to what the dads think towards their daughter. “I am sabotaging your relationship for your own good”. But ultimately the difficult learning experience (heart attacks, police beatings and humiliation) is perhaps aimed at the dads themselves. It is for their own good that they come to terms with their daughter’s choices and, by the end, they are all happier and stronger for it.


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