In this German hipster comedy of manners, twentysomething Niko (Tom Schilling) has just split up with his girlfriend, is out of work and prospects, and getting a cup of coffee in Berlin proves fraught with frustration. It’s another day in slackerdom, unfolding in crisp black-and-white, cut to a sleepy jazz soundtrack, and evidently channelling the same knowing cinephile vibe as, say, ‘In Search of a Midnight Kiss’ or ‘Frances Ha’.
It’s all rather charming, though, since leading man Schilling remains affable while never underselling this kindly yet feckless dropout’s sheer spinelessness. Moreover, first-time writer director Jan Ole Gerster expertly milks wry comedy from the unexpected individuals and scenarios crossing Niko’s wayward path. Wit and generosity notwithstanding, it’s 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 WWII generation – is way too heavy-duty for this film. A hatful of awards at home suggest that the seriousness has travelled less well than the laughter – which is not something you can often say about German cinema!