Nowhere in Africa won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film of 2002, and for good reason. This alluring drama is one of the most mesmerizing movies of recent years.
Nowhere in Africa, a German film directed by Caroline Link, tells the story of a Jewish family struggling to endure in Kenya during Nazi times. Having gone from rich to poor in a matter of weeks, the family has to adjust to desert climates, an African culture they don't understand and the tension that is growing between them.
The movie is about Walter Redlich (Merab Ninidze), the father who has had to swallow his pride and take a job of managing someone else's cattle. He has to deal with providing something of a quality life for his young daughter, and with his wife who will not adjust nearly so easily. Moreso, the movie is about Jettel Redlich (Juliane Kohler), Walter's wife, who is used to nice furniture and clothes and is now suddenly poor and living in a land where the women walk around topless. All she wants is to return to Germany and her parents, despite her husband's warning that Hitler will not get kinder. And then there is Regina (Lea Kurka and Karoline Eckertz at different ages), their daughter, who is more open to this different kind of life.
Nowhere in Africa is rich because its characters are so rich; each is so different and deep. The wife starts out as a whiny brat but progresses into a woman that absolutely loves the country and its inhabitants. The husband is the most consistent but has to deal with so much. The daughter is also interesting as she has to serve as an eternal glue between her parents, who at times grow apart to the point of separation. The acting also supports such characters; everyone is fabulous.
There are very flaws, if any, in this movie; director Link has created a beautiful and flowing film that is entertaining and gripping from beginning to end. Nowhere in Africa is one of the best movies of 2002, and deserved (or deserves) greater recognition than it did from domestic studios.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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