Welcome to Germany, written and directed by Simon Verhoeven
The theme of this film is of utmost, paramount importance, indeed, it can be argued that it has influenced the outcome of the German elections and given this country's position in Europe, it affects us all here and those trying to arrive in the capitalist paradise.
Welcome to Germany is about immigration, looked at with humor, as opposed to this year 's winner of the Golden Globe, yet another German feature, In The Fade, that brings to attention the violence directed against minorities, an explosion killing a man and his son and then the Nazis themselves are blown up in a kamikaze, suicide revenge attack on them.
In Welcome to Germany, Dr. Richard Hartmann is a rich surgeon, married to Angelika and father to Philipp and Sophie, a family with some issues, but not more than normal, the son is divorced and a successful lawyer, who has sacrificed his personal life- and is about to do the same for his own son if nothing stops him- while the daughter is still confused in regards to her future career, after trying various studies and starting afresh at the age of thirty two- was it?
To begin with, Dr. Richard Hartmann is an ambiguous character, successful as a surgeon, head of his section at the hospital, coordinator of resident doctors, owner of property and a couple of luxury cars and yet experiencing some crisis, at the age of about sixty five...maybe.
He has a friend, another surgeon who is specialized in plastic surgery, who injects some Botox- is it? - into his cheeks and invites him to the disco and more generally, to have sex with the many young women that he knows, some are employed by him, others are probably interested in his services.
At the hospital, Richard Hartmann has a very tense relationship with one of the residents, Dr. Tarek Berger, the latter seems to identify possible mistakes, at one point he offers help for a presumable weakness of the older Doctor, but it is the older man who appears to be grumpy, maybe envious on account of the youth of the resident, who had been at his house at the age of about seven and played football in the dining room, breaking a precious vase, a gift from the parents.
One evening, as the Hartmann family is having dinner, Angelika Hartmann announces that they will host a refugee, to the surprise of her children and facing the opposition of her husband who says they will do no such thing...has his wife gone crazy? Asks the confused, unbalanced Doctor.
Nevertheless, he regrets his outburst, apologizes late and the couple go to the establishment where immigrants are hosted, asking some funny and some serious questions...can they select their refugee? Is this like a casting? It is more Richard Hartmann, in fact his wife tries to temper and prevent him from asking inappropriate questions about religion and other such issues.
What follows are some amusing scenes - which have an ingrained sadness within given the circumstances - wherein various people sit on the couch, many in groups, underlining that they belong together and therefore making them unsuitable for the protagonists who want only one guest.
Diallo Makabouri is selected, he is alone, has travelled from Nigeria, his family is gone and although he does not want to talk about it, it seems that there is a sad story, maybe even tragic connected with his loneliness.
The tone of the narrative is not pitiful, there are jocular elements everywhere...for instance, when talking about marriage, Diallo emphasizes that in his land, it was impossible for him to get a wife, because he did not have money of property.
The differences between his culture and the German way of life can also be funny, especially since the Nigerian is such a pleasant, positive and amiable young man, who insists when there are quarrels that the children must show deference for the parent, although in the matter of the wife, he appears to favor an obsolete perspective, that she belongs to her man.
Open minded, clever, persistent, creative and intelligent as he is, Diallo Makabouri is able to change and adapt to his new surroundings, even if the situation can and does get chaotic, when Richard Hartmann decides to leave the house or when there is a rebellious party at the house.
A friend of the Hartmann family is a woman who loves a hippy life style, liberal, drug consuming and friendly...she invited tens of refugees to a party welcoming Diallo, but without the knowledge of the hosts, bringing in even a zebra.
The neighbor next door is a Nazi sympathizer, who insults Diallo and his hosts, calls the police to break the party and finally, her fascist group that start demonstrations against Diallo and his own, throwing stones at the windows of the house.
Alas, poor Diallo is caught in the middle of these disputes and the police reports do not help his application for residence, especially since there is the matter of the musical video for a song, that had some prostitutes invited, of whom the Nigerian was unaware and then the fight at the house, in which he tries to help Sophie Hartmann and the law enforcement agents are yet again on the premises.
Racism is discussed and satirized, there is the important message - conveyed otherwise by the Chancellor herself, Angela Merkel has said on the matter of immigrants that "they will manage together" - that with kindness, compassion, humor, intelligence, persistence, rich Germany can deal with this and so many other delicate matters and problems.
Diallo Makabouri is in fact the guest who helps th Hartmann family understand its issues and solve them...it is because of him that Philipp Hartmann gets closer to his son, understanding that his obsession with money, power and a transfer to Shanghai are very misguided.
Positive Psychology studies have demonstrated that the happiest people do not have money, wealth in common, but a strong bond with family and friends and time affluence is more important than material affluence.