Are you happy in your company

TV movie "Are you happy?"

Thomas Gehringer
The ARD television film "Are you happy?" (Hessischer Rundfunk) has a big topic, perhaps the biggest one of all: love - and how partnership (not) can succeed. Sonja and Marc are separated after 13 years of relationship, but now they go to their weekend house together to sell it. Time to remember and look into the reasons for failure. Thanks to a clever script full of real-sounding dialogues and a lively, careful staging, the film is neither a superficial feel-good movie nor a lead-heavy relationship study. Leading actors Laura Tonke & Ronald Zehrfeld complement each other wonderfully in this road movie and differentiated relationship drama.

Photo: HR / Bettina Müller

The disputes were sometimes more original ... Ronald Zehrfeld, Laura Tonke

Sonja and Marc go to the country together to sell their weekend house. They were a couple for 13 years, now it all seems to be over because he was having an affair. The breakup was a while ago; both agree to get a divorce. But the mood in the car is tense, because every word, every song on the radio (“Waterloo Sunset” by the Kinks) can evoke memories and bitter feelings. Especially with Sonja. She doesn't think much of Marc's idea of ​​accepting an invitation from a befriended couple despite their own separation ("as friends"): "We're not friends." In flashbacks you can see how it was in better times, how they got to know each other, also how the same journey once went before they bought the weekend house. The stopover in an inn in the town of Burgfelden is a romantic memory for both of them, now they argue about which table they sat at back then. The first half of the ARD television film “Are you happy?” Is a kind of relationship road movie, not a wild ride, rather a calm, melancholy journey through the story of a failed love.

Photo: HR / Bettina Müller

Newly in love. Sonja (Laura Tonke) and Marc (Ronald Zehrfeld) still know how to surprise each other. It's impressive how the imaginative Marc manages to get Sonja's tight wedding ring off her finger. A wonderful metaphor

The "thousand little things" of a relationship in flashbacks
Of course, the question arises from the start: Can this still be done with the two of them? But David Ungureit's script is far from clumsy predictability, everything seems possible, maybe also, but not necessarily, a good ending for Sonja and Marc. A kitschy finale in the light of the sunset is out of the question. “Are you happy?” Is not a superficial feel-good movie, but neither is it a heavy study of people who are gripped by the great crisis of meaning in the middle of their lives. The fact that one quickly develops interest in the characters is due to the coherent, true-sounding dialogues and the lively staging by Max Zähle, who tells the story of the relationship in numerous flashbacks. These scenes are not in strict chronological order, nor are they interspersed at will. They are always connected to the present, they are memories of Sonja or Marc in a specific situation. Not only Marc's affair, but “a thousand little things” are the reason for their separation, Sonja says later. And they are still ubiquitous like the salt shaker on the table that is charged with Sonja's memory of a petty argument.

Photo: HR / Bettina Müller

What the toothpaste tube used to be is now the salt shaker for Marc (Ronald Zehrfeld). And Sonja knows exactly how to annoy this self-confident looking man.

The gentle giant Ronald Zehrfeld and Laura Tonke at eye level
Even the smartest script and the most careful staging would be nothing in such a drama, mainly carried out by two people, if the cast didn't fit. Choosing the popular Ronald Zehrfeld for the male lead is a safe bet, which is not meant to be derogatory. Zehrfeld, this gentle giant and swarm of women, has already received three Grimme prizes (“Landgericht”, “Mord in Eberswalde”, “In the face of crime”) and here again delivers a reliably credible game. A wonderful addition is Laura Tonke, who, along with Zehrfeld, convinces as a clever, self-confident and at all times equal protagonist. It's nice that Tonke, who won the German Film Award in 2016 for “Hedi Schneider is stuck”, can be seen on television again after her recent cinema appearances.

Photo: HR / Bettina Müller

On the way to the "best chili con carne in the world". Love rubs off on the taste buds. 13 years later, it's not just the soup cup that is smaller ...

Weisgerber & Halmer as an alternative to a couple who have grown old together
When Sonja and Marc reach their weekend house, their neighbors have already made sure that their stay is longer than planned. Esther (Eleonore Weisgerber) and Roman (Günther Maria Halmer) are the alternative, a couple who have grown old together, who stayed together despite their affairs and who learned to take their everyday conflicts with humor. Single is a terrible word, says Roman. “As if it was somehow not enough for the long-playing record.” Now they want to persuade Sonja and Marc to reconsider their separation: Esther calls the prospective buyers and claims that the arrival of the owners would be delayed by a day. Sonja and Marc are more or less forced to spend the night in their house again, but the question of who should sleep in the guest room triggers another small communication disaster. The matter seems hopeless. But the involuntary togetherness also means that they deepen their conversations from the car and continue to look for answers to questions such as: What actually went wrong? “What is left of the two of us?” And of course: “Are you happy?” In the differentiated, intelligent and sensual relationship drama, nobody is unilaterally assigned guilt. As it turns out, Sonja was also having an affair. The film leaves open whether it was a reflex on Marc's affair; She doesn't seem very enthusiastic in the scene with Andreas (Sebastian Schwarz). The script and staging deal with Marc's relationship with his 15-year-old colleague Susanne (Wanda Perdelwitz) in more detail. The topic of having children also plays a role, but is only one aspect in the wide range of relationship issues.

Photo: HR / Bettina Müller

Counter-draft of love. Can the friends of your neighbors, Esther (Eleonore Weisgerber) and Roman (Günther Maria Halmer), a couple who have grown old together, save something in the relationship between Marc (Zehrfeld) and Sonja (Tonke)?

Love is ... - He: "A Volkswagen", You: "Definitely not a car"
The main male character looks a bit simpler - that's okay, maybe that's how we men are. However, the attributes are rather unimaginatively put together from typical male characteristics. Marc is the man in the midlife crisis who got a younger girlfriend, whom his wife only saw crying when her dog Charly died in an accident, who too seldom said "I love you" and when asked what love was for him , a comparison from the automotive world comes to mind. Love isn't a Maserati, says Marc. “Love is a Volkswagen.” That is a somewhat daring sentence at the moment, because when you hear the word VW you immediately think of deception maneuvers and the emissions scandal. But this television film about the timeless theme of love and partnership does not want to make any current references. That is why Sonja answers Marc's counter-question, what is love for her, simply and aptly: "Definitely not a car."

Photo: HR / Bettina Müller

"Are you happy?" is largely a road movie through the phases of a perfectly normal relationship. And at the end of the day, the different sequences come together to form a life-saving puzzle: 13 years = 13 songs on a long-playing record

Thomas Gehringer, freelance journalist from Cologne, writes for epd medien, the "Tagesspiegel" and other regional daily newspapers, member of juries and nomination commissions for the Grimme Prize. is worth something to me

Did you like this article?
You can pay for it! (and thus ensure that ttv remains freely accessible)

" PayPal, transaction

"Are you happy?"
HR / TV movie / drama
EA: 2.1.2019, 8.15 p.m. (ARD)
With Laura Tonke, Ronald Zehrfeld, Eleonore Weisgerber, Günther Maria Halmer, Wanda Perdelwitz, Sebastian Schwarz, Katharina Spiering, Sascha Nathan, Martina Eitner-Acheampong
Screenplay: David Ungureit
Director: Max Zähle
Camera: Carol Burandt from Kameke
Production design: Frank Prümmer
Editing: Stefan Blau
Music: Daniel Hoffknecht
Editing: Jörg Himstedt, Liane Jessen
Production company: Hessischer Rundfunk
Quota: 2.52 million viewers (7.7% MA)

PrintSendCommentComments (2) recommends: Films and series on DVD