A Guy, a Girl, and a Blue Dacia: 'Im Juli' Review
And as the curtains close, the audience yells “Encore!” and the cast bow with classy thespian grace, our Shakespeare month comes to a gentle, albeit sorrowful finish. But, in the real Bardic spirit of irony, my final review for the month is anything but crestfallen.
A road movie, rom-com and Shakespeare “adaption” all in one, Im Juli is a delightfully uplifting German film that is both dreadfully overlooked and immensely charming. It is, however, a very loose adaption of Shakespeare. Supposedly a play (no pun intended) on the Shakespearean comedy, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Im Juli stretches the creative bounds of what can and cannot be considered inspired by Shakespeare. Though it most certainly has the charisma, romance and comic relief of a classic Shakespearean comedy, pinning down any concrete references or homages to the Bard is a task suited for only the most well versed in his works.
Centering on shy school teacher Daniel (Moritz Bleibtreu) and the eponymous Juli (Christiane Paul), a bubbly, carefree bird of the wind, the film is the story of Daniel’s journey to Istanbul in search of an enigmatic woman he met one night at a concert. Knowing only her name and where she would be Friday night, he sets off in search of her, hoping to prove his love. Juli, heartbroken that Daniel met another girl the night of the concert instead of noticing her (as she had planned), decides to hitchhike to wherever the first person to pick her up is going. Lo and behold, that person is the still obliviously lovestruck Daniel.
At first glance, Im Juli may seem like the type of film made solely for the purpose of igniting a fire of adventure and passionate wanderlust in cynical young men. Young men, who’ve bitterly given up on their search for love in place of days spent binge-watching TV and commenting angrily on the state of a world occupied predominately by people like them. Though this film plays into the “only-exists-in-film” timeline of impossibly coincidental events, a witty script, the superb chemistry between the leads and a sense of genuinely unbridled hope in the spirit of infinite possibilities carry this film far and above the pile of typical road and romance schlock produced in droves all year.
Except, it’s very hard to count the movie as a Shakespeare film. As someone who has an eye for recurring motifs and themes across various works, I just can’t seem to see where elements of A Midsummer Night’s Dream fit in (though I admittedly didn’t enjoy reading the play very much and that may cause some biased ignorance on my part). Perhaps it’s the focus on the Sun and Moon and solar eclipse; the latter two symbolizing the beginning of Daniel’s downward spiral of unfortunate events and his subsequent transitional realization of who his real love is respectively. Apart from that and an air of ever-present whimsy that can only be described as wholly Bardic, you’d be hard-pressed to find any other hints of Shakespearean influence.
But, the fact remains that despite this month’s theme, that is an irrelevant factor in deciding whether to watch this film or not. Inspired by Shakespeare or not, Im Juli is a magical and uplifting piece of film that won’t fail to keep you smiling and leave you with a particularly potent stir of youthful optimism, nihilistic millennials included.