Film: Center Of My World
Director: Jakob M. Erwa
Starring: Louis Hofmann, Jannik Schümann, Sabine Timoteo
Release Date: November 10, 2016
Based on the prize-winning 1998 novel of the same name by Andreas Steinhöfel, ‘Die Mitte der Welt’ or ‘Centre Of My World’ is a 2016 German coming of age drama that focuses on the trials and tribulations of young love, friendship, jealousy, and family.
When Phil returns from a summer camp, he senses a wedge between his mother Glass and his twin sister Dianne but is kept in the dark about the details surrounding the air of hostility. Then, a new student in his class Nicholas catches his attention and he feels himself falling head over heels in love with him, despite his best friend Kat’s discouragement.
The story does not stress on Phil’s homosexuality, treating it as an ordinary occurrence like any other heterosexual setting. It is an already established fact, and there is no dramatic revelation or coming out. Rather, the film depicts the problems he faces every day as he learns to grow and understand what life is all about. It is about the different relationships and interactions he has with those close to him. The search for the identity of his biological father, Dianne’s mysterious disappearances at night and the flashbacks to his childhood keeps the movie interesting and moves the plot forward to an unexpected destination.
The acting performances in the film are outstanding. Louis Hofmann as Phil shines in his role, giving it the necessary sympathy, vulnerability, and helplessness that makes him so relatable to many teens. Jannik Schümann is charming and sexy, his body doing most of the work in many scenes. But it is Sabine Timoteo who steals the spotlight as the messy, disordered Glass who keeps bringing men in and out of her house and refuses to divulge anything to her son, be it the name of his father or the fight with Dianne. The characters of Kat and Nicholas are, however, not given enough development and their lives mostly remain a mystery throughout the film.
Sometimes, the movie is light-hearted and romantic. And at other times, it takes a mysterious and dark atmosphere, full of suspense and secrets. The various connecting plots and sub-plots are intricately weaved together, although there are some questionable elements left hanging such as Dianne’s alleged supernatural powers. Director Erwa has employed the cliché depiction of young love through nudity, fantasy scenes and dramatic slow-motion montages that sometimes seem artificial and way too over-the-top. But this wonderfully disjointed film has an aesthetic feel to it, a heart-warming aura that one can’t help but be drawn in to.
The cinematography is gorgeous and the direction has been carried out very well. The music has been employed quite appropriately, although there were a few glitches in editing. The script is well-written, and the subtle effects in a few scenes were nicely put.
With the production receiving various public funding including money from the Filmfonds Wien and from the representative of the Federal Government for culture and media, the film is one of the more widely distributed non-English-Language gay features and has won several accolades in many international film festivals.
As far as teen dramas go, ‘Centre of My World’ is a refreshingly delightful coming-of-age tale that focuses on different types of love and relationships from Glass to Phil to Dianne and the supporting lesbian couple. It has an extremely appealing nature, and Erwa has truly managed to capture the essence of the novel and display it remarkably on the big screen. The characters, which are the main strength of the film, have been portrayed most efficiently by the actors. This wonderful work of cinema is certainly worth watching.