Dir: Benjamin Quabeck. Ger. 2001. 104mins.
A blend of comedy and pathos, No Regrets is a light-hearted coming of age story that flags up its lead, newcomer Daniel Bruehl, as one of Germany's upcoming talents to watch. The film has done well in German-speaking territories, where it has taken DM 468,065 since opening last November, and also drawn acclaim on the festival circuit, taking the Hypo Prize at last year's Munich Film Festival and the German Film Critics' Debut Film. However, the storyline is too thin and unengaging for this success to translate to non-German speaking territories. Chances are likely to be only slightly better on the international festival circuit.
The plot meanders in and out of the observations and life experiences of Daniel (Bruehl), just out of high school and, at 19, still a virgin. The long-term focus of his attentions is former fellow student Luca (Jessica Schwarz), although when she goes to America for six weeks he has a fling with his boss Anne (Sellem). Anne is just about to ask him to go to bed with her when Luca returns - and tries to lure him back. Confused, Daniel confides in a sick old pensioner (Croll) who he works for as a carer: in a touching scene, the pair get drunk together. The lovelorn teen's collection of different jobs are also used to generate a few diverting subplots. On one occasion he becomes a church helper, straps himself to a crucifix and puts a banner across the altar on which he declares his love for Luca.
First-time feature director Benjamin Quabeck handles the sex scenes tastefully, sometimes humorously, but the interactions between the characters are neither long enough nor intimate enough to encourage real audience interest. And while Daniel is meant to be the focus of the film, his character is too under-developed to make his growing pains the centre of attention.
Bruehl carries the film effortlessly, but No Regrets still falls short of recent German films about teenagers such as Hans Weingartner 's White Noise (Das Weisse Rauschen - which also starred Bruehl) and Vanessa Jopp 's Vergiss Amerika (Forget America). Both of these weightier films saw their leads make a painful journey into adulthood that changes them irrevocably. This may not be what always happens in real life, but it does make for more stimulating entertainment.
David Schultz 's cinematography utilises inventive angles, such as filming one of Daniel's stumbling phone calls from the perspective of the machine itself. Other significant moments of emotion repeated several times or in slow motion or in jump cuts, playing like a visual version of scratching.
Prod co: Film Academy Baden-Wuerttemberg
Int'l sales: OTTFilm GmbH
Prod: Stephanie Wagner
Scr: Hendrik Hoelzmann
Cinematography: David Schultz
Ed: Tobias Haas
Music: Lee Buddah
Main cast: Daniel Bruehl, Jessica Schwarz, Denis Moschitto, Marie-Lou Sellem