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Today on ARD: "The air we breathe" – high-level drama in the first

Well-played ensemble drama, told with a lot of empathy, about people who involuntarily spend a night in a nursing home.

What a heavy, depressing drama that could have been on ARD! After all, nursing home stories regularly cover the same gloomy topics: the operators are all about the money; the staff is overwhelmed and unfriendly; Sons and daughters have deported their parents and hope to inherit as soon as possible; Not to mention infirmity and dying without dignity.

Death is also a guest in “The Air We Breathe” (ARD), but apart from that, it is amazing what a zest for life the author Julia C. Kaiser and the director Martin Enlen spread. The script, which was implemented with great empathy, is far from being a comedy; and yet it leaves a cheerful serenity.

“The air that we breathe” on ARD: three couples come to the fore

This has mainly to do with the incidents that the film tells about in the first. There are no central characters, but three couples come to the fore in the course of the plot: old Mr. Glenski (Gerd Wameling) suffers from the onset of dementia. His daughter Alisa (Bernadette Heerwagen) absolutely needs a power of attorney because she has so far paid the costs for the home out of her own pocket, but the old man refuses to sign.

Meanwhile, Jürgen (Thomas Loibl), who has apparently suffered from a terrible mother all his life, suffers a panic attack on her deathbed in “The Air We Breathe” when she suddenly seems to regain consciousness. The home manager accommodates him overnight in a room that has just become free; there he meets Marianna, the daughter (Patrycia Ziolkowska) of the previous resident. And then there is the florist couple Klaus and Sylvia Bronstein (Rainer Bock, Ruth Reinecke): At first glance, she still looks very vital, but decided in favor of the retirement home because she doesn’t want to wither in front of his eyes, but for him it feels like she left him.

“The air that we breathe” (ARD): A clever trick makes for a decisive turning point

Up to this point, “The air that we breathe” on ARD is moving in the expected trajectories, but then a simple and clever trick ensures that people’s existence takes a decisive turn: something is brewing outside. Even at the beginning of the film, the radio news warned of black ice. When the storm broke out and the streets were no longer passable, everyone involved had to spend the night in the home: the visitors as well as the staff.

role Actress
Dr. Sina Kunz Neda Rahmanian
Martina Katja Studt
Klaus Bronstein Rainer Bock
Sylvia Bronstein Ruth Reinecke
Marianna Leszek Patrycia Ziolkowska
Jürgen Gmoll Thomas Loibl
Lana Gmoll Barbara Philipp
Martin Glenski Gerd Wameling
Alisa Glenski Bernadette army car

Only then do the clarifying second encounters between father and daughter Glenski and the Bronstein couple arise. Marianna would also be on her way home a long time ago. In this way, however, she can open Jürgen’s eyes and heart to the love of the person who will be by his side from now on. Of the many moving moments in the film, the excellently played scenes with Thomas Loibl and Patrycia Ziolkowska are possibly the most beautiful. Under different conditions, they would have what it takes to be a romantic comedy, because Jürgen initially jumps from one faux pas to the next.

Drama “The air we breathe” on ARD at a high level of craftsmanship

Given Enlen’s experience, the fact that the drama in the first is also of a high technical level may not come as a surprise; The director shot some of the best “Wilsberg” episodes along with many other series of thrillers that are well worth seeing. “The air that we breathe” impresses not least because of the image design.

Although the action takes place almost exclusively in the home – a youth hostel in the Taunus served as the filming location – it never gives the impression of a chamber play. This is ensured not least by a few trips through the building, during which Enlen’s regular cameraman follows the home manager (Neda Rahmanian), who has a friendly word for everyone, and nurse Martina (Katja Studt) through the building. The two women seem to have limitless long-suffering and inexhaustible generosity; in this respect the film is almost like a fairy tale.

“The air we breathe”

November 24, 2021, ARD, 8:15 p.m., media library

The excellent script of the ARD drama is rounded off by small observations on the side: In between, Martina likes to disappear in the boiler room to smoke secretly, where she also deposited a hip flask; later she will share the last cigarette here with her boss. The rest is the result of Enlen’s careful implementation of the script and his excellent work with the excellently cast, large ensemble, which includes Katharina Nesytowa (as Alisa’s wife) and Barbara Philipp (as Jürgen’s sister). In view of the beautiful music by Dieter Schleip, the almost inflationary cuddle pop is superfluous. (Tilmann P. Gangloff)

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