Film

Never curtail your dreams

blinddate

A little help from my friends: Saliya Kahawatte (Kostja Ullmann) memorises brands with his magnifying glass and his intellect. Photograph courtesy www.theupcoming.co.uk

SALIYA KAHAWATTE (KOSTYA Ullmann) has everything. He’s 15 years old. He knows what he wants out of life and he’s completely focused on being the best he can be. He’s also extremely presentable and is loved by many. And then disaster strikes, in the form of a genetic illness, robbing him gradually and then rapidly of his sight. Based on fact, My Blind Date with Life is a German-language (with subtitles) film that tells the story of indomitable courage in the face of every challenge in the book. It is beautifully made, wonderfully performed and you won’t want it to end.

Structured along the lines of the classic hero myth as outlined by sociologist Joseph Campbell, the story takes you along the necessarily bumpy path of this young hero. He chooses not to be in the handicapped division of anything, even though he is left with but 5% of his vision after surgery – that enables him to distinguish light from dark – and he opts to be apprenticed to the best hotel in the business: Munich’s Bayerischer Hof boasts five stars; it was founded in 1841 and it boasts the finest attention to hotelier discipline and detail.

You would think he’s like a lamb to the slaughter. But with careful planning and assistance on the part of his mother and sister, he manages to pull a fast one on the whole establishment. Billed as a comedy, this film will have you weeping real tears at the acts of kindness people are capable of. Ullmann does a very fine job in representing this humble hero who had a dream, but the writers and decision-makers in this work need to be lauded for their levity and sensitivity to such a fine project. Perhaps it is billed as a comedy because it is light hearted all the way and never teeters off into being morose or self-pitying.

Fail, he must, even though you hope he won’t. And fail, he does, catastrophically. But this story, rather than one of blindness is about friendship and the courage to hold on to who you think you are. It’s a beautiful film which also offers satisfying and engaging insights into the hotel industry and all its severity and humour, as it offers an understanding of management: who has empathy and who doesn’t.

More than all of this, My Blind Date with Life is about the proverbial beach-comber: the guy who doesn’t really fit in, because he is different. It’s also a tale about xenophobia and love, about social rituals and when to stop lying. In short, it’s completely wonderful.

  • My Blind Date with Life is directed by Marc Rothemund and features a cast headed by Nilam Farooq, Michael A. Grimm, Alexander Held, Sylvana Krappatsch, Jacob Matschenz, Anna Maria Mühe, Kida Khodr Ramadan, Kostja Ullmann and Johann von Bülow. Produced by Simon J. Bucher, Yoko Higuchi-Zitzmann and Tanja Ziegler, it is written by Saliya Kahawatte, Ruth Toma and Oliver Ziegenbalg and it features creative input by Michael Geldreich and Jean-Christoph Ritter (music), Bernhard Jasper (cinematography), Charles Ladmiral (editing), Stephany Pohlmann (casting) and Ramona Klinikowski (costumes). Release date: May 4 2018.

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