Berlinale 2023 Review: WHEN WILL IT BE AGAIN LIKE IT NEVER WAS BEFORE, A Family Saga on the Edge
The sprawling family saga When Will It Be Again Like It Never Was Before, based on the
However, When Will It Be Again Like It Never Was Before does not fall into the usual category of run-of-the-mill coming-of-age films. The story centers on Joachim Meyerhoff, who goes
As Josse´s father Richard (Devid Streisow) works as a director of the clinic (Meyerhoff´s father worked at Hesterberg Psychiatric Hospital), the protagonist and his two brothers come to regard the patients as an extended family.
Heiss perceives growing up through the eyes of the youngest member of the family what enables an innocent look at life and its darker moments. However, Josse is not a naïve kid which becomes apparent in the second decade when the family idyll becomes disrupted by wear and tear in the marital life of Josse´s father and mother.
Furthermore, Josse has to come to terms with the unfairness of life which is demonstrated through a story arc with his first love, a girl suffering from clinical depression.
When Will It Be Again Like It Never Was Before is not foremost a story of a dysfunctional family, even if the film formally checks this category. It is a story of a family molded and shaped by unexpected events and many life circumstances: illnesses, heartbreak, tragedy, grief, regret, separation, and disappointment. Everything happens within the environment of the psychiatric clinic except Josse´s brief stint in the USA.
Heiss´s film is a family retronostalgic tragicomedy that approaches life with all its ups and downs. However, Heiss does not wallow her characters in tragic events, keeps the melodrama grounded, and does not traumatize the viewers (hence why the film could be programmed in the
The driving motif of When Will It Be Again Like It Never Was Before emerges as a notion and question of what is normal and what it means to be normal. Josse´s family defies the notion not only by living in a psychiatric clinic. Every member has certain quirks but by period standards they are certainly not normal.
They elude family and parental standards
When Will It Be Again Like It Never Was Before contains transgressive moments without being transgressive and tragic situations without accentuating the bleakness. Heiss demonstrates her talents in tackling grim subject matter (and this also stems from Meyerhoff´s provocative autobiography) and turning it into a poignant reverie while bending the coming-of-age genre.
Despite the melancholic undertone