Romance Done Right: The German Rom-Com Experience

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Wednesday marked a very exciting day for me. It was the first time I have ever watched a Romantic Comedy at the cinema, in a foreign country, in a foreign language. I started my exchange in Germany just over a month ago, and I’ve been itching to investigate the Rom-Com scene over here ever since. I finally settled on the movie ‘SMS für dich’, or ‘SMS for you’, based on the book of the same name by Sofie Cramer. Let me tell you, it was terrific. Now, I’m not sure whether that’s because German Rom-Coms are of a particularly high standard, or whether it’s because I’ve been starving myself of Rom-Com-y goodness, but in my opinion, it was Love Actually good.

The whole experience began with some excellent cinema advertising. In one particularly memorable ad, a couple enter a bedroom kissing all hot-and-heavy like. The woman starts to unzip the man’s pants, ready to give him some good old oral loving, when suddenly, a small furry animal pops its head out through the zipper and she reels back in surprise. The ad? “You wouldn’t expect animals to be here, so you shouldn’t have to expect animals to be in your gummy lollies.” A sexy ad for vegan gummy lollies. Who’da thunk.

Onto SMS für dich itself. The Leading Lady™ (Karoline Herfurth) has an adorable fiancé and they’re super in love, but in the first two minutes he gets killed in a car accident. Jump forward and she’s been living in her parent’s barn for two years, mourning. She finally decides she’s going to go back into the ‘real world’, and moves in with her Sassy Best Friend™ (Nora Tschirner). She decides that the best way for her to deal with her grief is to try talking to her ethereal fiancé, but that comes unnaturally to her. Instead, when she finds her old phone with his phone number in it, she decides to text him instead. Enter Future Love Interest™ (Friedrich Mücke). Future Love Interest is a journalist in an unhappy relationship, who accidentally breaks his phone in the process of annoying his girlfriend. Thus, he has to get a new phone, and with it comes a new number. No prizes for guessing which dead guy used to have said number. He reads all of Leading Lady’s texts, and uses the information in them to engineer a meeting, all the while never letting her know – a bit of unhealthy stalker-like behaviour that, awesomely, Leading Lady eventually calls him out on. You can likely guess the rest of the movie from there.

Yes, the movie has a few Rom-Com tropes, such as the Future Love Interest conveniently being a journalist. What really makes it stand out though, is the role of the grieving process. Instead of the dead fiancé just being conveniently out of the picture, the grieving process the Leading Lady has to go through is actually the most important part of the plot – more so than even the falling-in-love aspect. The result is a thoroughly heart-felt movie which traverses the full range of emotions from laugh-out-loud stitches to silent sobs (even for those like me who can only understand 60% of the quick German dialogue). I thoroughly recommend it. As yet, it doesn’t appear to be available in Australia, but if you’re ever in Germany you should definitely go see, it or any Rom-Com, if only for the ads.

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