Honig im Kopf (2014)
Starring Emma Schweiger, Dieter Hallervorden, Til Schweiger, Jeanette Hain, Mehmet Kurtulus, Jan Josef Liefers, Tilo Prückner
Director of Photography: Martin Schlecht
Music by Dirk Reichardt, Martin Todsharow
Edited by Constantin von Seld
Written by Hilly Martinek & Til Schweiger
Directed by Til Schweiger & Lars Gmehling
Rating: 5,5 out of 10
Honig im Kopf, the most successful German movie of 2014, is a bit of a mess, trying to mix the trademarks of Til Schweiger’s other successes with a “serious” topic like dementia. One of the many problems of this movie is that few of these trademarks really work outside a pure comedy, neither the over-the-top slapstick nor the exaggerated characters nor his daughter’s weak acting nor the misogyny. Sure, Dieter Hallervorden’s acting is a pleasant surprise but the movie is working against him wherever it can. From the toilet jokes to the showcasing of guest actors to the insistence on songs with charts potential. But there is nothing that compares with the editing. The movie is easily one of the worst edited movies I have ever seen, coming close to real trash like Birdemic. How this happened is a total mystery to me. How anyone could have approved that and what the purpose was supposed to be, to have conversations with 1-second-takes, is totally baffling. It is a movie that annoys me the more I think about it.
The movie pretends to be about the struggles that come along with people getting older and suffering from Alzheimer’s. What it does instead is both romanticizing and ridiculing the disease and the effects on the people involved. Amandus (Dieter Hallervorden) constantly says “outrageous” things, flirts overtly with women (even on TV), sexually harasses a woman on a train, pees and poos in inconvenient situations and almost sets a house on fire. But the movie never seriously deals with all those incidents, instead treating it like comedy most of the time. Sure, from time to time Amandus explains that it is a terrible feeling but those sentiments get lost in absurd humor of the movie. Even the movie’s title shows this problem, as it makes it sound poetic and nice. Is it better than demonizing such an illness, as it also happens? Maybe, but it still uses it mostly for entertainment value.
More troubling is the movie’s misogyny, centering around the relationship of Niko (director Til Schweiger) and Sarah (Jeannette Hain). As their daughter Tilda (Emma Schweiger) explains, they have marital problems because he had an affair and she took revenge by having an affair too, with her boss. Throughout the movie only her affair is discussed in an accusatory way, while his affair never really comes up again. We see his anger and jealousy, as if she is the one who is disturbing the family harmony. When Niko then brings his demented father home, we get endless shots of her reacting hysterically, screaming furiously again and again, making us hate her even more, although she is burdened with his problem and can’t deal with it. Both parents are working all the time and neglect their child but before the movie ends, we learn (through Tilda’s narration again) that they want to change that. Well, she quits her job and takes care of her father-in-law while Niko doesn’t change anything. The movie treats this stereotypically sexist move as obvious, as if there was no other way than her giving up her career for the family. In many ways this is symbolic for the old-fashioned values this supposedly modern movie favors.