Halt Auf Freier Strecke - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Halt Auf Freier Strecke Reviews

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August 16, 2016
It seems that most films these days have characters who are killed off in one fashion or another and we never give their death more than a second of thought. Rarely do we have a movie that only deals with someone who is dying. A few years ago, 50/50 covered the subject of a young man who faces a rare spinal cancer and it did so with the right mix of humour and dignity. And, around the same time, German director Andreas Dresen came out with HALT AUF FREIER STRECKE (STOPPED ON TRACK). This film also deals with someone battling cancer; however, it has no laugh out loud funny moments in it.

In STOPPED ON TRACK, Frank Lange is your average, 40-year-old, DHL package sorter in Germany. Simone, his wife, is a tram driver. They, along with their two kids, live a typical middle class, suburban lifestyle. They have just moved into a nice new house when the bomb gets dropped on them: The couple is told that Frank has an inoperable brain tumour and he has, at best, just a few months left to live. Perhaps understandably, Frank is in shock when he hears the news. For Simone, however, she knows their lives will never be the same again as tears fall from her eyes. The Langes decide they need to tell their children but when the time for that conversation arrives, they cannot bring themselves to doing it. Instead, the children are left to wonder why Mom and Dad are so sad and why Dad is getting sicker by the day. Eventually though, they do figure it out. For 14-year-old Lili, it's a slight inconvenience. For 8-year-old Mika though, he wants to know if he can have Dad's iPhone when he's gone.

Dresen, who previously tackled the subject of old people having sex in the film CLOUD 9, doesn't shy away from reality - warts and all - in his films. He once said that "You do not have to like [my] characters, but you do at least have to understand them a little." True, we don't develop a friendship with Frank Lange. He's a nice guy but he's not loveable the way Adam Lerner in 50/50 is. And Frank doesn't have a bar hopping, bong smoking BFF like Seth Rogen. Frank, however, does have a devoted wife who struggles to keep the family together while he physically and mentally unravels.

As in Dresen's other works, STOPPED ON TRACK had no script. The theme was developed and then improvised in front of the camera. All of the medical professionals in the film were, in fact, real medical professionals. So, when the palliative care doctor counsels Simone and tells her that it's okay to vent her frustrations once in a while, she is giving out both practical and sound advice.

Germany is not Hollywood and there are no happy endings for the Lange family. We watch as Frank health declines until the pain is just too much for his body to bear. It's not easy to watch but, at least for me, it didn't bring tears to my eyes in the way 50/50 did. I think the reason for that is because 50/50 has moments of humour that lift your spirits before crashing them down to Earth each time Adam has to deal with his cancer. In STOPPED ON TRACK, the Langes never have funny moments. The best they have are the times when they can demonstrate how much they truly love each other. It's hard to say which story is more realistic.

The film has won a number of prestigious awards in Germany, as well as the Un Certain Regard prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2011. It is somewhat heartbreaking to watch but, if you can handle the subject matter, it is well worth your time.
June 11, 2016
This is a brutally honest film about terminal illness in the relatively young. The mundane approach makes it even more resonant. The mum/wife steals the film and makes you wonder if it's the survivors who suffer most. Frank captures the feeling of a helpless passenger perfectly. It also highlights the very different attitude to death from British/American standards and I can see the pros and cons of both approaches. The kind of film that stays with you and sparks thought.
½ June 20, 2013
Herr Frank Lange has an inoperable brain tumor. He knew now that he doesn't have much time left to live.
December 27, 2012
On en rit, on la théâtralise, et certains prétendent même qu'elle n'est pas une fin, rien n'y fait et la mort demeure un concept tabou au sein de la société occidentale moderne. Avec 'Pour lui', le cinéaste Andréas Dresen ambitionne de lui rendre une visibilité, en l'exposant au regard du public, sans fard et sans volonté de choquer. Nulle trace de sensationnalisme ou de surcharge émotionnelle ici : cette oeuvre naturaliste, proche du documentaire, observe froidement l'inéluctable dégradation physique et mentale d'un père de famille atteint d'une tumeur au cerveau. La force du film réside dans sa terrifiante banalité : aucune issue de dernier recours, aucune leçon de courage, aucune démonstration de solidarité familiale trempée dans l'acier, il n'y a là que la détresse d'un homme pour qui les actes quotidiens les plus anodins deviennent progressivement impossibles, et celle d'une famille pour qui la mort du malade sera une cruelle délivrance. Les maigres tentatives de dédramatiser cette horrible progression vers le néant (le malade qui "voit" son cancer à la télévision, un peu comme dans 'Le bruit des glaçons') sonnent faux, presque hors-sujet. Malgré d'indéniables qualités de "cinéma-vérité", la conclusion de 'Pour lui' est également une délivrance pour le spectateur, littéralement lessivé d'avoir fixé la mort dans les yeux pendant près de deux heures.
April 7, 2012
film distribue par nos soins
le theme aborde est dur
c'est forcement touchant
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