A group of people with disabilities travel to Switzerland because one of them wants to smuggle illegal money into United Kingdom. Irritable or clever? Or a little bit of both? We reveal it in our review THE GOLDFISH.
The Plot Summary
Portfolio manager Oliver (Tom Schilling) is a snooty nouveau riche with a fat black money account in Switzerland – and immense impatience. This impatience pushes him into a wheelchair one day when he thinks he can just drive past a long traffic jam at 230km/h. This attempt ends with several flips. Some time later, Oliver still hasn’t made any progress at Rega because instead of worrying about his physical situation, he’s just worried about how to get back into the lucrative business of portfolio management. And about flirting with the carer Laura (Jella Haase), who doesn’t find him appealing. She has more patience than with Oliver with the shared apartment “The Goldfish”, which consists of the blind Magda (Birgit Minichmayr), the autistic Rainman (Axel Stein) and Michi (Jan Henrik Stahlberg) and Franzi (Luisa Wöllisch), a girl Down syndrome exists. Nurse Eddy (Kida Khodr Ramadan) has little regard for Laura’s optimism and drive – Oliver, on the other hand, has a lot for the good WiFi in the shared apartment. When the idea comes to him that he could use the goldfish to bring illegal money over from Switzerland unnoticed, he also feigns a general interest in the goldfish…
The Goldfish Movie explanation of the ending
Director and screenwriter Alireza Golafshan did not earn fame in 2013 for his short film “Disabled Foreigners”, but he did receive attention: The 45-minute film about physically disabled foreigners who have to live with belonging to two marginalized groups at the same time was shown in addition to its theatrical release, among other things on Bayerischer Rundfunk – and he apparently proved to some decision-makers that Golafshan knows how to tackle the issue of disabilities with humor, without relying on an attack of derogatory jokes. Because his feature film debut “The Goldfish” is in a similar vein. Although the integration aspect is left out, this full-length comedy also allows jokes with characters who have disabilities.
Rainman (Axel Stein), Laura (Jella Haase), Franzi (Luisa Wöllisch) and Eddy (Kida Khodr Ramadan).
Admittedly, more sensitive film fans will also find isolated gags in “The Goldfish” in which Golafshan is not alone with, but also occasionally laughs briefly at his characters: When autistic Rainman (played by a lively Axel Stein with spot-on comedic timing) answers almost everything with phrases from his very limited vocabulary, this could catch some people off guard. It’s a bit of a trite punchline about autism, but in the overall context of the film it should be clear that Golafshan isn’t trying to make fun of the character Rainman or people who have similar situations in real life. Rainman, with his standard phrases, is sometimes an obstacle for the other characters because he makes communication difficult, and obstacles are an essential part of the basic grammar of the type of comedy to which “The Goldfish” belongs. In a film in which an arrogant, wealthy slob tries to smuggle black money across the border, obstacles have to be put in his way – they cause friction, which means that comedic sparks fly. And there must be unlucky situations, uncooperative characters as well as cooperative but moderately helpful accomplices.
And Golafshan relies on inclusion through equality: The Goldfish shared apartment is not an occasional obstacle because it is made up of people with disabilities. It is an occasional obstacle because it is part of Oliver’s story, which, in keeping with the genre and narrative rules, is led away from the path that our protagonist initially imagined by stumbling blocks. Dealer and supervisor Laura, who is played with charm and wit by “Fack Ju Göhte” actress Jella Haase, is just as in Oliver’s way as the constantly annoyed and opportunistic Eddy (hilarious and excited: “4 Blocks” star Kida Khodr Ramadan) or his polished (ex) colleague (amused and greasy: Klaas Heufer-Umlauf). The goldfish roommates are no bigger problem for Oliver than “the healthy ones,” and Golafshan draws them all with empathy. And even if they aren’t exactly the most complex characters in the comedy world, they are at least drawn with the same broad brushstrokes as the rest of the cast of characters.
A lot goes wrong on the trip to Switzerland…
Golafshan relies on efficient, light-footed two-dimensionality. Rainman is clean, friendly and occasionally panics, the blind Magda (“3 Days in Quiberon” supporting actress Birgit Minichmayr with a noticeable joy in acting) is cynical, ripped off and strong-willed and Franzi (Luisa Wöllisch, the only one in the cast who actually has a disability ) is not reduced to her Down syndrome, but rather, despite all her childlike naivety, she is brighter than those around her give her credit for. Only Michi (Jan Henrik Stahlberg, “Loneliness and sex and pity”) is completely inconspicuous – which Golafshan uses for both situational comedy and quieter moments.
Franzi and Oliver (Tom Schilling), together with Michi (Jan Henrik Stahlberg), Rainman and Magda (Birgit Minichmayr).
Against the background of these characterizations and the friendly tone that Golafshan uses in his film, it does not read as derogatory when Rainman, grinning happily, refers to a horsefly as “Wednesday”. In the overall film context, the gag is not “Haha, the stupid disabled person doesn’t know what to call a gadfly”, but: “And again the implementation of Oliver’s plan is delayed” – especially since the film regularly emphasizes that the goldfish are consistently underestimated. They are allowed to have individual weaknesses purely on a human level; after all, they have that in common with Oliver, Laura and Eddy. And even if a trip to a camel farm is a bit long and the same gags are repeated a bit too often, “The Goldfish” is otherwise an amusing, happy comedy film with a quick pace. Dialogue humor and situational comedy alternate in a functional rhythm, “work without an author” mime Tom Schilling makes Oliver’s obligatory transformation into a friendlier manner believable, even if the script forces him to quickly trivialize it, and during the film in USA TV overexposure is held, Golafshan struggles with isolated directorial bon mots that raise “The Goldfish” to cinema level. You can do it like that. You don’t get stressed there.
Conclusion: “The Goldfish” is a largely free of kitsch and clichés, but still good-hearted comedy with (not about) characters with disabilities.
“The Goldfish” can be seen in many USA cinemas from March 21, 2019.