At a time when filmmakers are getting lost in a fog of 3-D conversions and assorted digital shenanigans there’s a resistance forming: small DIYers, emerging poets of the film negative, those who make their voices heard through simple yet effective movies. Jan Ole Gerster is such a filmmaker. “Oh boy” recounts the absurd, touching and melancholy wanderings of a young German through a Berlin that would have made Jim Jarmusch proud. Gerster has directed a small film that does everything big. “Oh boy” is stuffed full of references, from “Coffee and cigarettes” for ambiance to Woody Allen because of the soundtrack, which alternates between fun and serious.
But what makes above all the strength of this first film is its splendid ability to capture the viewer’s attention and inspire laughter and tears. Moreover, the “boy” of the title is played by a revelation of the most promising kind: Tom Schilling. Both sunny, touching and very funny, Schilling’s performance as Niko Fischer helps keeping the film centered—in fact, his performance is responsible for the film’s success.
Of course, “Oh boy” is not perfect, some weaknesses eventually coming into view like the narrative conceit of aimlessly wandering, which has been done and redone already in cinema or the idea of basing an entire screenplay on a succession of encounters, one more outlandish than the next. However much its flaws affect your judgment, it would be a shame to deny oneself the pleasure of discovering this film, as it is filled with so much maturity and genuineness that the name Jan Ole Gerster can only inspire these few words: “Can’t wait for your next movie!” (no distribution as of yet)