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Life is All You Get (1997)

Das Leben ist eine Baustelle. (original title)
After he loses his job, his father, and his girlfriend, Jan's life is a shambles. Then suddenly he meets freakish street musician Vera, and a bittersweet romance unfolds...


Wolfgang Becker
7 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Jürgen Vogel ... Jan Nebel
Christiane Paul ... Vera
Ricky Tomlinson ... Buddy
Hristina Papamihou Hristina Papamihou ... Kristina
Martina Gedeck ... Lilo
Armin Rohde ... Harri
Rebecca Hessing Rebecca Hessing ... Jenni
Andrea Sawatzki ... Sylvia
Frank-Michael Köbe Frank-Michael Köbe ... Zivi 1
Rainer Werner Rainer Werner ... Zivi 2
Uwe Richter Uwe Richter ... Polizist 1 / Möbelträger 2
Frank Kessler Frank Kessler ... Polizist 2
Oliver Meschke Oliver Meschke ... Polizist 3
Hans Seck Hans Seck ... Mann mit Hund
Klaus Dieter Stenzel Klaus Dieter Stenzel ... Mieter (as Klaus Stenzel)


Jan Nebel is young man who is fired from his job at the slaughterhouse after he beats up two civil-dressed cops at a street riot. Soon thereafter his father dies, and Jan moves to his apartment, sharing it with former co-worker Buddy and girlfriend Vera. Written by Anonymous

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Comedy | Drama


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Did You Know?


Jenni: This is the answering machine of Mrs. Nebel and her stupid boyfriend. If you want to leave a message...
Jan: Jenni, don't bullshit me. Give me your mother. It's urgent.
Jenni: I just said this to keep the man away who calls little girls and tells them to put a metal stick into a power outlet or to throw a hairdryer into the bathtub. She's not there.
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References City of the Living Dead (1980) See more »


That'll Be the Day
Written by Buddy Holly (uncredited), Norman Petty (uncredited) and Jerry Allison (uncredited)
Arrangement by Christian Steyer
Performed by [Gesungen von] Ricky Tomlinson & Anja Krabbe
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User Reviews

Negotiating Traumas in Berlin
9 November 2000 | by da criticSee all my reviews

Leben ist eine Baustelle, titled in English as Life is All You Get, explores the aftermath of the Wende in late 90's Berlin. The story of Ossi Jan Nebel, which means 'fog,' is a mixture of discontent and pleasure, nihilism tempered with hope. As he encounters conflict after conflict, it is not any individual obstacle that is insurmountable, but the sheer number of them that threaten to crush him. Paired with Vera, the mysterious yet charming street-singer, Jan finds himself in emotional strangleholds that can only be understood through an examination of the sum total of events. How else explain leaving a dead man in the kitchen to go on a date? A great extent of the film's tensions are related to issues of sex and sexuality. Jan lives with his sister and her lover, and acts as a surrogate father/brother for his niece, whose real father is unmentioned throughout. The film opens with a street riot that appears as a video game, and Jan wanders through the maze from the bed of a woman to his temporary job at the slaughterhouse, unable to comprehend the devastation that surrounds him. This inability to comprehend, or to face, continues when Moni tells him of the threat of HIV and he refuses to get tested for what seems to be an interminable amount of time. Meanwhile, Jan's relations with Vera are conflicted and dubious: they keep secrets from each other without even trying. His roommate Buddy moves in with him and they revitalize the apartment of Jan's deceased father. Nevertheless, until the end a gloom hangs alternately over one man or the other. The Greek woman appears with all the exoticism of a far-off island and relieves some tension and loneliness simply through existing, and yet even this raises tensions, as Buddy and she grow close, but in a fit of misunderstandings, we find her in bed with Jan. Perhaps, as was discussed in class, this film plays into the crises of heterosexuality so evidenced in the earlier comedy wave. Simultaneously however, Leben ist eine Baustelle draws upon the economic hardships of the characters as much or more so as their sexual identities. It is their struggle for survival that ultimately binds them together, whether selling birds or being birds. The film does not end with any solutions, as both German and English titles attest, there is no solution. To exist is to attempt to create, and so a hybrid family skates across the ice, Vera, Jan, Buddy, Jenny, Kristina, breathing thin air and sharing their dreams.

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Release Date:

20 March 1997 (Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

A Vida É Tudo Que Temos See more »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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