›› Centre of My World - Die Mitte der Welt ‹‹

a film by Jakob M. Erwa.

2016 | 115 mins | Germany.

a sensuous take on falling in love with the new boy in class.

Dave says:

There's something wonderfully refreshing about this film from writer and director Jakob M. Erwa, as based on the novel by Andreas Steinhöfel, even if it's all but a variant on the gay cinematic favourite of falling in love with the new boy in class.

Thankfully, it's more than just that, given this is a work all about secrets and here it's a question of just where to start? Take Phil (Louis Hofmann) for example; a young man head over heels in love with school newcomer and all-round cutie Nicholas (Jannik Schümann), only to keep his romance a secret from his best friend Kat (Svenja Jung). Not that Phil's sexual openness with his boyfriend bothers his family, being only too supportive of his sexuality. Yet the family dynamic is not as it was before he left for summer camp those few weeks ago, with the relationship between his maverick mother Glass (Sabine Timoteo) and his twin sister Dianne (Ada Philine Stappenbeck) strained to breaking point; only neither is saying why?

In short, this is a work of questions, not least of which is the identity of their father, forever known as - lover No. 3. That all will be revealed, kind of goes without saying, given the explosive narrative goes out of its way to juxtapose the upbeat feel of a gay teenager's first love, with the hard knocks of life. Intercut with many a telling flashback of the twins as children, this is a film that revolves around the relationship between Phil and his friends and family. That that end, both Hofmann and Schümann are wondrous as the lover boys of the piece. Often seen naked, their sensuous scenes together have an erotic vibrancy all of their own, ever gazing into each other's eyes. Yet as lush as their bond is, the star of the show is Timoteo who frankly excels as a mother determined to throw convention to the wind, forever telling her current lover to leave just when family life is starting to resemble a form of normality.

That her maxim to being is "do whatever you want to do and be whoever you want to be" are words that resonate throughout the emotional roller coaster ride of a screenplay. Yet in a work complete with the now seemingly requisite music video montage of fun-filled times, not everything here is as bright 'n' breezy as what first appears, given the light tone of act one is soon to be countered by the darkness of the next, as the pieces of the cinematic jigsaw are finally assembled to reveal the shocking picture of the reality of what truly took place between mother and daughter. And whilst everything in the film is seen through Phil's eyes, including an all too rose-tinted view of the first time he saw Nicholas, it's the romance between the boys that keeps you enthralled, rather than the troubled life of a nonconformist family when the consequences of one's actions hit home.

But that said, it's that threatening undercurrent that makes this feature standout from the multitude of coming-of-age works that have gone before it, even if there's a few nagging problems in the mix, given and come close-of-play you cannot help but ask yourself - whatever happened to school? Say no more.

›› available as part of the MATCHBOX FILMS catalogue: 16th October, 2017 / UK.
›› posted: Tuesday, 4th January, 2022.

Gay Visibility - overt. 
Nudity - the full monty. 
Overall - file under ... 3+ stars. 

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