JDIFF 2013 Review – Home for the Weekend (Was Bleibt)

Marko (Lars Eidinger) brings his young son to the family home for the weekend. While there, he is reunited with his parents and his younger brother Jakob (Sebastian Zimmler). Their father announces his retirement, and it is not long before their mother makes her own shocking admission; one that will have consequences for the entire family.

Home for the Weekend is an examination of the secrets and resentments that families hold on to. When Gitte (Corinna Harfouch), their mother, announces that she has decided not to take her depression medication any more, Marko and Jakob respond with misguided concern. Both are struggling with their own issues – Jakob’s business is failing, Marko’s marriage is falling apart – and by deciding to take a softly, softly approach to their mother, they send her further into despair.

Director Hans-Christian Schmid and writer Bernd Lange have transformed the family home, which was a refuge for so many years, into a prison on screen. The house is where all the secrets are kept – and finally revealed – and this is the house that the family is ‘trapped’ in, in order to examine their lives. Parent and child roles are reversed as soon as Gitte reveals her truth, and she soon finds herself in the uncomfortable position of being treated as though she is fragile and incompetent, much to her frustration.

Corinna Harfouch is fantastic in the role of Gitte. While it may seem that she is holding everything together, Harfouch allows Gitte’s resentment and frustrations to simmer very close to the surface. Eidinger maintains the role of ‘big brother’ for most of the film, until it becomes apparent that he may lose his mother. Sebastian Zimmler as Jakob plays up the role of youngest son, always doted upon, who cannot handle the thought that his life may not turn out the way he planned and Ernst Stötzner as the patriarch of the family brings the tension and passive aggression to the house.

Home for the Weekend – which is more intriguingly titled in German; What Remains – is an oddly resolved family drama that hinges on strong performances and a script that rather politely explores issues such as mental illness, bankruptcy and the dissolution of (more than one) marriage, but barely manages to scratch the surface.

Rating: 2.5/5

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