Stream or skip?

Far away (now on Netflix) is a German comedy starring Naomi Krauss as a stressed-out woman who despairs at her first chance to escape her hectic life, if only for a moment. Or maybe forever, because it involves running away from her stupid, ungrateful, demanding, obnoxious family to a location so beautiful that holiday postcards look like brochures for the local dump. So will this entry in the Woman Needs a New Life subgenre of rom-coms offer us a new story, or the same old clich├ęs? Let’s find out.


The core: Zey (Krauss) is surrounded by assholes – assholes who just happen to be her family, but don’t worry, this isn’t the kind of movie they won’t drop by, especially considering how jerk they are on that day of the funeral of her mother, no one gave her a millimeter of slack. But aren’t they also in mourning?, you might ask, but that would make sense, and this is the type of movie that doesn’t really make sense, but hey, at least it’s likeable. Anyway. Zey’s husband Ilyas (Adnan Maral) is too busy laughing and cutting vegetables with the new young female addition to his Turkish restaurant to make it to the funeral on time. Her father (Verdat Erincin) is an unreasonable, rambunctious coot. And her daughter Via (Bahar Balci) is a teenager, and teenagers are common in this way. In short, Zey is annoyed.

If Calgon ever had to bring anyone, it’s Zey. And it’s not Calgon but a deus ex machina who does just that, in the form of a plot development in which Zey discovers that she has just inherited her mother’s secret cottage in Croatia. She doesn’t even grab her bag before hopping in the car and GTFOs from the hustle and bustle of urban Germany to the anti-hustle of a lazy, sun-soaked place by the sea, where she’ll be nearly trampled by a herd of sheep and stand slack-jawed as she the locals drink fresh milk from the goat. But before that happens, she arrives at the cottage in the pitch black of the night, fumbles through the door to the bed and wakes up next to a man named Josip (Goran Bogdan), who is sleeping with his butt out. All the way out. The same goes for his other troop. And then he laughs at her spanx.

Turns out Zey’s mom bought the property from Josip’s family and told him it was okay to stay there until someone else arrives to claim the game. And here’s Zey so he puts up a tent in the garden because he still owns that piece of land and then she goes into town to the shop and Josip works there and then she goes to the restaurant and Josip works there too . She can’t escape the man, and at first she absolutely wants to, as they bicker and annoy each other, but in the end maybe she won’t? You know how these things go. Zey consults with a real estate agent (Artjom Gilz) about selling the property for a very pretty penny, but Josip goes out of his way to convince her that whoever buys it will just run electricity on it and rent it out to tourists and it will ruin it. it – and maybe it’s the kind of place that will make a smart woman like Zey look at all the nasty things in her stressful life and rethink the nonsense of it.

Distant movie poster
Photo: Netflix

What movies will it remind you of?: I think Zey ventured to Croatia To eat and/or To pray and/or Love – although ticking off two out of three isn’t bad.

Achievements worth seeing: Even when the writing is loose and sloppy, Krauss retains enough of her charismatic presence to hold the film together.

Memorable dialogue: This is how people flirt in this movie:

Josip: I want to show you something. Also tell something. And give you something.

Zey: How do I know at least one of those things isn’t your penis?

Sex and skin: father’s naked ass; female toplessness.

Our opinion: OK, so “fresh” doesn’t really apply to Far away, who sticks to the foreign escape rom-com formula in every way except perhaps the age of our protagonist, who is approaching 50 and contemplating death after her mother’s passing and may just be ripe for change and that change may not finds in a handsome piece of muscle but in an age-appropriate gentleman who could probably tolerate a few sit-ups. But that’s usually me interpreting things outside the broad, simplistic lines of this screenplay, whose characters aren’t really agreement with everything – grief, identity, loss, etc. – not dictated by the plot. The movie will fulfill its superficial agenda, or else.

This is not to say that it is an unpleasant experience. Krauss’s amiable approach to the material goes a long way, even if it lets her down a bit. And the cinematography is beautiful – imagine how unconvincing this whole silly affair, with its ready-made characters and predictable arcs, could be if the gritty charms of pastoral Croatia weren’t so lavishly displayed. And I’m still not sure we should buy any of it, since the blocking, staging, and editing can be clunky, and the comedy is mawkish and rarely elicits more than a light grin, and the screenplay is so lazy we can’t know if the main character has damn it function or not, and it never really makes us feel emotionally involved in the story. In that sense, it does Krauss a disservice, because behind this nonsense is the sense that Zey is a woman of substance who deserves more happiness than she has.

Our call: SKIP IT. Far away is nice, but ‘nice’ doesn’t always mean ‘good’.

John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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