Director Sarah Winkenstette helps TOO FAR AWAY a dramatic counterpart to the funky USA children’s cinema and tells a story about two very different boys with ambition and feeling. We’ll reveal in our review whether that’s convincing.
A friendship develops between Ben and Tariq (Sobhi Awad).
The plot summary
Since his home village is about to make way for a lignite mine, Ben (Yoran Pfarrer) and his family have to move to another town. While his sister quickly fits in, Ben remains an outsider in his new school for a long time. And even in the new football club, things are not going as usual for the striker, who was considered so talented at the old club. To make matters worse, there is also another newcomer to the school. The Syrian refugee Tariq (Sobhi Awad) becomes (unintentionally) the new center of the class and then also shows great talent on the football field. Now it has to be seen whether Ben is able to shake off the competitive mentality and discover the similarities with his “opponent”…
Movie meaning of ending
Director Sarah Winkenstette already proved in 2013 that she knows how to create successful productions for children: She helped to set up the children’s reality show “Kann es Johannes?”, in which presenter Johannes Büchs gives a child a gift within 48 hours trying to bring a sport closer. In 2014 she won the Goldener Spatz children’s media award for the WDR project. Since then, she has directed, among other things, the long-running children’s television series “Schloss Einstein”. With “Too Far Away,” Sarah Winkenstette finally underlines her status as a media creator who creates children’s entertainment that is worth seeing: Most German children’s films these days are either squeaky, funky, morally sour or very simple – while the successful exceptions are usually highly creative and full irony and healthy silliness. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a quiet, dramatic German children’s film that treats its topics with seriousness and attitude, but without pointing fingers. “Too far away” now provides a remedy.
At his old club, Ben (Yoran Pfarrer) was a talented striker. Now he has to prove himself in his new club.
Winkenstette tells her material in comfortable, closely observed scenes with few dialogues. Often it is only the image compositions, constructed with a keen eye, and the expressive faces of the young actors that convey content. And when the characters speak, they do so in real-life dialogues in which the children, at an early double-digit age, are afraid to open themselves up too much. There is no artificial, artificial youth language, no petty formulation of all the emotional turmoil someone is going through, and the children’s characters also don’t speak like they do in print. “Too Far Away” tells the story of two boys who feel they are too far away from home in this sensitive, calm way. For Ben, just moving from a village to the nearest, slightly larger community is like traveling to another planet. He has to come to terms with a new position on the social ladder of a football club, with the fact that his new class is different than his old one and with the fact that his sister adapts so much better than he does. He feels left behind and disoriented – and then there is the refugee Tariq, who is really far, far away from his homeland. The fact that Tariq still finds friends faster than him makes Ben jealous and angry – and young actor Yoran corpser shines in nailing exactly this facet of being pissed off. Thanks to Pfarrer’s acting, Ben doesn’t come across as petty, insensitive or whiny, but can be understood as a likeable boy who, however, is overwhelmed by the overall situation and therefore shows his worse sides. And the way his dynamic improves with Tariq is completely believable.
Newcomer Sobhi Awad plays Tariq as a friendly, grateful boy, who nevertheless has a great deal of melancholy because he misses his home and his family. Thanks to this character, “Too Far Away” makes the worries and fears of refugees tangible to (not only) its young audience – and without coming across as a moral sermon. Instead, the film explores this topic empathetically and gradually, portraying Tariq as a complex, real boy with whom we develop a bond – which in turn makes his problems understandable and urgent. The conflict between Ben and Tariq and their individual conflicts are resolved in a child-friendly, resourceful way, without breaking the dramatic tone of the film. The somewhat blurry sound mix alone mars the overall impression of “Too Far Away”: At times you have to concentrate a lot to understand the dialogue, and that could be more restless, young minds, of which the film demands a lot with its leisurely narrative style. maybe cause it to tip over. However, for parents who know that their children are willing to listen carefully, this film is a powerful opportunity to teach them the themes of openness, tolerance and empathy.
Conclusion: Sarah Winkestette’s “Too Far Away” is a contemporary, dramatic children’s film about the ability to empathize with others.
“Too Far Away” can be seen in selected USA cinemas from March 12, 2020.