The opening night of The German Film Festival received us with wine and German snacks, while the enthusiast crowd gathered at the Barracks Palace Cinema, the main event was about to begin. The grand opening focused on the release of the movie Next Door, the directorial debut of Daniel Brühl.

Next Door was an unexpected and pleasant surprise. Touching on gentrification and social class in Berlin, Next Door is full of subtle subtext. It allows the viewers to see a meta version of Daniel Brühl playing himself in a satirical way, making fun of his fame and the people’s perception of him.

The story develops into a casual conversation and rapidly turns into a cat and mouse game between Daniel ( Daniel Brühl) and Bruno (Peter Kurth), who are neighbours. The most powerful element of the movie is what’s implicit. We see a character, Bruno, who grew up and has had to live in a very different Berlin that has never been kind to him. He has to see Daniel, a famous Hollywood actor, benefit from a relentless city that values celebrity over hard work.

The commentary on class is vital and guides the whole story. There are two very different characters, Bruno that comes from a lower income and who seems constantly affected negatively by the city’s gentrification and Daniel, a Hollywood actor who uses money to solve all of his problems. Their relationship turns sour as Bruno seeks revenge for Daniel’s undeserved happiness.

Powerful acting by both Brühl and Kurth solidify this movie as a fantastic comedy/drama that is not only funny but very smart. Almost all the film is shot in one location, but it never loses grip of the viewers with witty and quick dialogue that keeps you wanting more and more.

The German Film Festival will run until 20 June in Brisbane, with sessions offered every day.

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