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Review: Raspberries with Mustard


- Ruth Olshan’s movie about the world of adolescence is a colourful and unpretentious drama which leaves an after-taste of summer

Review: Raspberries with Mustard

Born in Russia, raised in Israel and Berlin, and a student of film direction and production in Leeds (UK) and Cologne (Germany), screenwriter and director Ruth Olshan is what we might call a fully-fledged European. Over the last few years, she’s mainly turned heads with her documentary work, as attested by Wie Luft zum Atmen (2005) or the more recent sensual work Being Koscher (2010) which explores the curious contradictions and concepts inherent to day-to-day Jewish life. But Raspberries with Mustard, which was screened within the Made in/With Luxembourg section of the 12th Luxembourg City Film Festival, sees her changing tack. To this end, the director has joined forces with screenwriter Heike Fink to create a fiction film in German, which plunges head-first into the world of adolescence. Mostly shot in the Grand Duchy and starring several Luxembourg actors in its cast - including Luc Schiltz (the hero of seasons 1 & 2 of Capitani) - this co-production between four countries (Luxembourg, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland) is carried by its good-natured tone and the “freshness” of the situations it depicts.

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The film follows in the footsteps of 13-year-old Meeri Ehrlich, played by Leni Deschner in her first big screen appearance. To all intents and purposes, the young woman is in the throes of puberty and is struggling with the contradictions inherent to her age. Firstly, her mother passed away several years earlier and, aside from the pain caused by her departure, which seems to have been sudden, she isn’t entirely happy about the arrival of a new woman in her single father’s life (Luc Schiltz), who works as an undertaker (adding an extra layer of humour to the story). This new woman is played to a tee by Luxembourg’s Fabienne Elaine Hollwege (recently impressive in the docu-fiction An Zéro – Comment le Luxembourg a disparu [+see also:
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). Initially tense (not least because this new woman is also carrying another man’s baby), relations between the two "competitors" eventually ease. Meeri’s young brother, little Luk (an adorable Benedikt Jenke) plays no small role in their reconciliation, given his continual attempts to bring the two together by way of humour and mischievousness. And as if that wasn’t enough to contend with, our teenage girl’s heart belongs to a boy her own age who doesn’t love her back... Whenever they come into contact, Meeri is quite literally lifted.

Whilst not offering up an entirely original story, Raspberries with Mustard dutifully delivers: you have to see it as a modern, intergenerational tale hinged on a bucolic, family atmosphere. Young Meeri’s ability to float, her feet lifting from the ground whenever loving, sentimental feelings take over her inner world, lend the film an interesting hue and result in some surprising images, including sweeping aerial views when the actress flies over the surrounding fields and forests. It’s a clear and well thought out metaphor. Ultimately, it makes for a colourful, summery and unpretentious drama which leaves an after-taste of August, raspberry jam and mustard.

Raspberries with Mustard is produced by Amour Fou Luxembourg (Luxembourg), Zischlermann (Germany), Neos Film (Germany), Phanta Film (the Netherlands) and Turnus Film (Switzerland), and is sold worldwide by Incredible Films (the Netherlands).

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(Translated from French)

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