First Snow of Summer [Sterne unter der Stadt] — German Film Festival 2023

Review by John P. Harvey.

Alexander (Matteo Di Sapia) lost his mother shortly after his birth.  A few years later, his father (Harald Windisch), needing to be closer to her, moves into the underground railway, and Alexander goes to live with his grandmother (Margarete Tiesel).  She keeps Alexander informed of his mother’s life, his father’s doings, and the state of the world, but Alexander attributes his family’s misfortunes to his parents’ falling in love, resulting in his birth and ultimately in loss of both of his parents.  Alexander swears off falling in love, and moves into the cellar to be closer to his father.

As a young man, Alexander (played now by Thomas Prenn), again to remain close to his father, takes a job on the underground railway, using the walls of disused passages as canvases and meeting his father weekly for lunch.  When by chance his gaze falls upon millinery assistant Caro (Verena Altenberger), he contrives to meet her.  But he will not, under any circumstances, let himself fall in love.  And neither will she allow him to.

This boy-meets-girl tale contains ingredients that imbue it with a special poignancy: harmless eccentricities, courage and uncertainty, dedication and hard-won skills, generosity of spirit, luck and misfortune, and a little magic and ambiguity.  Illustrating a variety of responses to life’s existential challenges, its characters turn multiple lamps upon such vital concerns as generosity, creativity, and the gifts of hope, wonder, and possibility.

Screening at Palace cinemas.

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