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Can a movie about coping with the death of a loved one be funny? Should it be allowed to be funny? Or is this movie entirely about something else?
“Life is not for cowards” is based on a book by Gernot Gricksch and was directed by André Erkau. The story is told quickly and sounds rather tragical: After his wife has died in an acident, Markus Färber is alone with his teenage daughter Kim. Both are not able to cope with the death of their wife and mother, but act as if everything was just fine. Marjus is hiding behind brave phrases, Kim behind her gothic make-up. Markus´ mother Gerlinde takes care of them until she finds out she has colon cancer. She does not want to be a burdon and pretends to go on a vacation trip. She hires the unconventional nurse Paula to look after her and struggles with her own fears. Paula does not agree with the “cope on your own” strategy and informs Markus about his mother´s illness. While he is still trying to understand everything, Kim has had enough and runs away with her boyfriend Alex. They hitchhike to Denmark, break into a summer cottage and enjoy a few hapy days there, while Markus, Gerine and Paula are out searching for them.
Despite all this drama, the movie has a lightness to it that is rarely found. Yes, it is about death, but moch more about the guts to take on life, about family and about love in many forms. The sad topic is spiced with lot of humor, but never declines into slapstick.The actresses and actors do a great job and the characters are very loveable, be it Kim, who recites statistical facts at any occasion, or Paula, who gives her patient space-cookies against the pain or Markus, who never seems to know what´s going on, but always does the right thing in the end. To get back to the initial questions: Yes, a movie about death has the licence to be funny and I personally think it should be, at least when it is executed as well as this one. A really good dramatic comedy, well worth watching.