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"Kopfüber" is the newest movie written and directed by Bernd Sahling. Some may know him from his other works, especially his 2004 film "Blindgänger" about a pair of girls who are best friends and both blind and carry music in their hearts. This one here is about ADHD. We meet Sascha, a young boy, who just had to change schools because of his unacceptable behavior. He steals, he damages things, he's always trouble, he screams uncontrollably and he's unable to read and write. He lives in a family with his mother, bigger brother and sister who all, admittedly, really aren't much of a help with him. The mother's always busy and keeps spending time away with her new boyfriend, whom she never introduced to the kids, maybe because he doesn't want to or maybe because he's a bit of an escape for her and she doesn't want these two lives to be mixed. She takes Sascha shopping with her or they watch TV together, but there's no real connection of spending their spare-time with each other. His older brother has his own troubles and breaks promises with Sascha to take more money from him. His sister actually buys the stuff he stole and keeps giving him cigarettes. Luckily, Sascha still has a friend from his old school (Elli) and the two spend their time together to record strange noises or just be there for each other. They keep doing some stupid stuff as well, but none of it is so severe that it's the reason for Sascha's struggles. It's just what children that age do and perfectly normal. These more severe actions mostly happen when he's alone and doesn't know what to do with his time.
When it all becomes too much once again, his mother gets a social worker to assist her in bringing up Sascha and spending time with the blonde boy to keep him from doing stupid things. Slowly a relationship is developed and the two work together on bikes (Sascha's passion) and he also improves slightly at school. Unfortunately, one day Sascha gets taken to the doctor where he is examined and diagnosed with ADHD. From that moment on, he has to visit doctors frequently and take pills all the time. As a result, his school results further improve and he succeeds at school to the extent that his report is good enough so he won't have to repeat the year. However, since he started taking these pills, he has become downright lethargic. His parents, siblings, teachers etc. are sort of happy that he doesn't get into trouble anymore, but his friendship to Elli declines more and more as he's just too exhausted all the time to do something with her, make bike tours etc. So he has to make a decision. And the decision he made resulted in a beautiful final shot, which put a big smile on my face.
All in all, it's a good film and certainly worth a watch, especially for those who have people with ADHD among their family and friends or even suffer from it themselves, but also for everybody else who wants a deeper insight into the matter. ADHD is said to be the standard diagnosis for children who keep behaving badly and critics say it's picked way too often just to put the blame away from the child, the parents or anybody else who may have made mistakes. But are they really doing them a favor with this diagnosis and possibly forcing the poor kid to turn into a pill-popping robot instead of really digging into what may cause the permanent troubles? I don't think so and obviously neither does the director.
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