In 2018, the family argues in “Der Vorname” about choosing the same for future offspring. Now a trip to Lanzarote is planned, and once again Sönke Wortmann sends his protagonists through a powerfully eloquent family hell.
Four years ago, Sönke Wortmann premiered in theaters a remake of the French film Le Prenom with Der Vorname, a 2010 adaptation of the 2010 play of the same name by Alexandre de La Patiere and Mathieu Delaporte. The story of a middle-class family that got into a fight at dinner over the – supposedly – chosen name of the kids in the house and soon touched on a lot more topics than that attracted more than a million viewers to the movie. Der Nachnameh has long been ready as a successor, but its launch had to be delayed due to Corona.
The fact that there is such a thing as a sequel is also the merit of screenwriter Claudius Plagging, who further developed the main idea of the play and tied a lot of ideas around a new discussion. This time around, as the title of the movie suggests, the focus is on choosing a family name after marriage.
Lots of secrets
Mother Dorothea (Iris Berben) is secretly married to the much younger René (Justus von Dohnagny), an old friend of the family. Now she invites her children Elisabeth (Caroline Peters) and Thomas (Florian David Fitz) with their respective appendages – Stefan (Christoph Maria Herbst) and Anna (Janina Ouse) – to the family homestead in Lanzarote. When the new family relationship is introduced there, Thomas is especially dissatisfied, and the rest are at least incomprehensible. Elisabeth, as a good friend of René, is deeply offended first of all.
The fact that René also keeps Thomas’ former room locked doesn’t make things any better for him. The secret of this and some others will be revealed in the upcoming (controversial) negotiations. And all this is due to the fact that Dorothea, known for her determination, took the surname Rene and is now called König.
As with The First Name, it is only a means to an end and the first spark for many other harsh truths and bitter insights. However, based on Dorothea’s decision, one can discuss the meaning of names in general, as well as one’s own identity, gender roles, and their power relationships in particular.
Many problems, no solutions
In the end, however, everyone in the family develops an unpleasant opinion about the other, which sooner or later, voluntarily or involuntarily, emerges. And the clan hides many secrets, so almost every second something new is revealed. There is almost no time to take a deep breath, which makes it sometimes a little tiring to keep a close eye on the multitude of events. And, unfortunately, the same thing happens with some more serious problems in general. Much is commented on, but not decided and finally discussed.
Anyone who wants to watch a Sönke Wortman film knows what to expect in terms of cast and humor. “Name”, “Contras”, “Closed Society” – Here “Surname” does not matter. The fact that Herbst, von Dohnagny, Fitz & Co. are a well-rehearsed team and harmonize well with each other is funny enough to cover up the film’s shortcomings. So, “Der Nachname” offers an entertaining 87 minutes full of biting dialogue and goofiness that should prepare many people for their annual visit home at Christmas.