Centre of my World

emFilm & TV, Films & TV 3 Comments

Centre of my World is a delicate German coming-of-ager – adapted by director Jakob Erwa from an Andreas Steinhöfel novel – in which sensitive late-teen Phil (Louis Hofmann) returns from camp one summer to find the small town he’d thought a paradise irrevocably altered: a storm has rearranged his usual reference points, distancing beloved sister Dianne and leaving free-spirit mother Glass even more emotionally fragile than when he left.

With great visuals and sublimely constructed character depth, Centre Of My World will immerse you in a dreamlike whirlwind of emotions, dark secrets and intricate relationships.

The film does not shy away from wholeheartedly tackling the most heartrending scenes and themes of the book it’s based on, piecing together one of the most tasteful coming-of-age stories in German cinema. It delves into a variety of abstract and controversial topics like abandonment, young gay relationships and self-discovery, all of which cleverly intertwine in its mesmerising cinematography and leave you with a sense of quiet surrender by its closing reel

The plot, albeit dynamic, does not have anything atypical or remarkably special about it – boy meets boy, they become a couple and later have a falling out. What keeps the viewer interested and even glued to the screen is the visually-gripping way in which the story is told, as well as the breathtaking performances. The secondary characters often bring more depth and secrecy to the story than the protagonists and keep you fully engaged even after the gay relationship between Phil and Nicholas (played by Jannik Schümann who just recently came out himself) is no longer in the spotlight

The Center of the World

emBooks & Magazines 3 Comments

When I was about 14 I carried a book with me everywhere for months because I just couldn’t let go of the protagonist. It was probably the first time that I really fell in love with a book. Welcome to The Center of the World… 

A coming of age story set in a remote mountain range in Germany; Author Andreas Steinhöfel weaves the elegant tale of a seventeen-year-old boy named Phil. Although the novel does deal with Phils sexuality, it primarily illustrates his tumultuous relationship with his unconventional mother, Glass, and reclusive twin sister, Dianne.

The family occupies a large estate, called Visible, on the outskirts of a socially repressive and ultra-conservative town. The town not only discriminates against Glass because of her promiscuous nature, but they transfer their criticisms to her two children. Therefore, throughout Phil’s childhood, he feels ostracised despite his mothers advice to ignore the harshness of the “Little People,” the people who inhabit the town.

Phil does discover refuge in the form of a young and vivacious girl named Kat who becomes his one and only ally. However, despite Phils seeming acceptance of his sexuality, he does not believe that his family or his friends would approve of his relationship with charming and attractive runner Nicholas who becomes his first boyfriend.

The novel is written in a first-person narrative with intermittent flashbacks that describe the roots of Phil’s personality. Steinhöfel’s greatest accomplishment is that he portrays homosexual relationships as the equivalent of heterosexual relationships. By demonstrating that the journey towards self-discovery of a young gay man is the same as that of a young straight man, Steinhöfel shows that discriminatory views on homosexuality are completely unfounded. In addition to vividly depicting Visible’s breath taking surroundings, his crisp and graceful prose provides insight into Phil’s complex thoughts and emotions.

Satisfying the reader with Phil’s self-discovery, the author does an excellent job of balancing the scales between satisfaction and misery, having and longing. By the end of the novel, one aches with a confused combination of happiness and grief. Steinhöfel and his novel deserve every word of praise.

You can grab both the English version and the German original at amazon or, even better yet, your local bookstore.