In this German hipster comedy of manners, twentysomething Niko (Tom Schilling) just split up with his girlfriend, is out of work, and is having a frustrating time getting a cup of coffee. It’s just another day in slackerdom, unfolding in crisp black-and-white, edited to a sleepy jazz soundtrack, and channeling the same knowing vibe as Frances Ha.
It’s all charming, though, since leading man Schilling remains affable while never underselling this kindly dropout’s sheer spinelessness. Moreover, first-time writer-director Jan Ole Gerster expertly milks wry comedy from the unexpected individuals and situations crossing Niko’s wayward path. This is still largely familiar, and the film’s one fresh element—playing Niko’s self-involved uncertainty against the tough moral decisions faced by Germany’s post-WWII generation—is way too heavy for this film. A bunch of awards won at home suggests that Coffee’s seriousness hasn’t translated as well as its laughter—not something you can often say about German exports.