Movie Review

Vincent Wants to Sea

‘Vincent’ has outbursts of silly fun

From left: Karoline Herfurth, Florian David Fitz, and Johannes Allmayer in “Vincent Wants to Sea.’’ From left: Karoline Herfurth, Florian David Fitz, and Johannes Allmayer in “Vincent Wants to Sea.’’ (Vincent Will Meer)
By Wesley Morris
Globe Staff / July 15, 2011

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Beware the movie written by an actor who stars as a person with a disease or a disorder. You spend the movie noticing the reverse vanity. The German Florian David Fitz wrote for himself a film about a young man with Tourette’s syndrome determined to visit the Mediterranean. Fitz has said he got the idea from a drama teacher he once had in Boston. But he’s also watched a lot of movies and, presumably, a few award shows. So he probably knows the upside of tackling affliction.

Well, there’s no “probably.’’ Fitz won the German Oscar this year for “Vincent Wants to Sea,’’ a combination road movie, romantic comedy, disorder film. He plays Vincent, of course, and Vincent is prone to spasms and vulgar outbursts that are beyond his control. Vincent’s recently widowed, macho businessman father (Heino Ferch) dumps him in a clinic, and even then the movie ensures sweetness.

Ralf Huettner directed “Vincent Wants to Sea’’ and has rigged it to flatter Fitz. But as a demonstration of both men’s generosity everything here seems designed for maximum cuteness: the instant attraction between Vincent and a bohemian anorexic named Marie (Karoline Herfurth); the instant repulsion between Vincent and his combustible obsessive-compulsive roommate, Alexander (Johannes Allmayer); and whatever’s going on between Vincent’s father and the chain-smoking doctor (Katharina Muller-Elmau) who team up to chase Vincent after he and the other two steal the doctor’s Saab and head south.

This is a bright, broad, silly, harmless movie whose sweetness is a means to an end: “Escape From Sesame Street.’’ It makes no sense that the road trip could have terminated at at least three different points, but shamelessly contrived screenwriting keeps it going. The escape itself doesn’t make sense since these characters are adults and, we’re told, are free to go if they please. The staff’s expertise is negligible, too. Usually when a professional says, “I’m terrible at my job,’’ you sense she’s just having a bad day. When the doctor here says it, there’s no reason to argue. Her patients are extreme versions of their type. Vincent has text-book Tourette’s. Allmayer sketches such an extra-strength caricature of OCD that, in his tight blue jogging suit, he could be a student at Professor X’s mutant academy. Naturally, his comic-book name would be Mr. Clean.

The movie throws in a lot of screaming matches, too many powdered-doughnut pop songs, a UFC-caliber pummeling, and toward the end some dark business in a hospital room. Those final scenes imply a more sobering movie about motor and psychological disorder that can’t entirely be lightened up by what‘s basically a riff on “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,’’ with the Alps standing in for Michigan Avenue. This is the sort of movie where a giant crucifix isn’t a symbol of suffering. It’s a platform Vincent and his friends climb to take in amazing views.

Wesley Morris can be reached at wmorris@globe.comor followed on Twitter: @wesley_morris.

VINCENT WANTS TO SEA Directed by: Ralf Huettner

Written by: Florian David Fitz

Starring: Fitz, Karoline

Herfurth, Johannes Allmayer, Katherine Muller-Elmau,

and Heino Ferch

At: Kendall Square

Running time: 90 minutes

In German,

with English subtitles

Unrated (fisticuffs,

some sexuality, and

disorder-borne profanity)

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