24 Weeks (2016) Poster


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Well developed drama to illustrate relevant dilemma's around dealing with a possibly handicapped fetus before its birth
JvH4826 February 2016
Saw this at the Berlinale 2016, where it was part of the Competition for the prestigious Golden Bear. The script was well written and the drama developed gradually and evenly paced. Apart from being a well fleshed story about matters of life and death, this movie is also a much better exposition on the topic than any documentary can do, and also a much easier format to let us remember the arguments in favor or against. Sufficient dramatic ingredients were added to have all the choices presented to us, giving us the chance to determine for ourselves how we would have thought and acted in similar circumstances. Particularly that some women saw her as a role model, due to her reputation as a comedian, turned the public opinion into an extra factor in the equation. Of course, all the usual suspects (parents, friends, relatives, business contacts) also have an opinion in the matter, and are usually not very shy to offer their viewpoint. In this case her 8-year old son formed an extra complicating factor too, and his involvement in the discussion was a bit late, but not too late.

We saw viewpoints shift one way or the other along the running time, especially when not only Down syndrome was the main issue, but also heart problems, necessitating several operations on a baby only a few months old. To allow the arteries around the heart to grow to a size feasible to be operable, the baby should have to survive at least one month before the first operation, and still another five months before the second more definite one. The baby is bound to suffer several months in the meantime, a frightening foresight indeed.

Eventually, as per German law, the mother has the last word about an abortion, which by the way is lawfully allowed in this particular case for even a far advanced pregnancy as hers was. Until the end we were unsure which choice would be made in the end (no spoilers here). There were no overly sentimental scenes nor was there any tear jerking for that matter. Albeit that some hefty outbursts were not avoided, it was overall very rational, in spite of the understandable opinions and heavy emotions displayed by the protagonists. All in all, a realistic story and an excellent display of nearly all pro and con arguments one can think of.
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Touching and relevant
Horst_In_Translation14 October 2016
Warning: Spoilers
"24 Wochen" or "24 Weeks" is a really new German movie and these slightly over 100 minutes already reached great success at awards bodies such as the Berlin Film Festival. The writer an director is Anne Zohra Berrached and with this only being her second work as a filmmaker, after the underwhelming "Zwei Mütter", she is far from being as famous as her lead actors in this 2016 release. Julia Jentsch is known to many for her portrayal of Sophie Scholl in the Oscar-nominated work and Bjarne Mädel was one of the stars (and a crowd favorite) of "Stromberg" (German version of "The Office"), one of the greatest things German television has produced in decades. But back to this film here. They play a couple who are expecting their second child. But things turn dark quickly when they find out from the doctors that the unborn is very sick, will suffer most likely from Down Syndrome. And if that isn't bad enough already, then it is revealed later on that the little one is also suffering from a severe heart condition. For a big part of the film, over an hour, the question is will they have the baby or not, but in the end it becomes fairly clear which path they are going to take. I personally would describe this film as a very liberal movie as it definitely makes it almost impossible to disagree with the couple's final decision, unless you are a really conservative Christian I guess. There even at one point is a mention from Mädel's character about his parents who were like that apparently. But it's much more about the decision than about the process of the couple dealing with their situation. Conflict arise not only between the two, but also between them and their parents, friends, babysitters etc.

The female main character works as a stand-up comedian, which adds a kind of tragicomic aspect to this film for sure. I quite liked this approach. But there were also aspects I did not like. It is perfectly fine to include one sex scene to show how the couple is still attracted to each other, even during the progressed pregnancy, which is a problem for many, but not for them. They are made for one another. But why include another sex scene? Or these nude scenes in the shower. They added almost nothing I must say and I felt they were just clumsy attempts to make the film more controversial, to have more people talk about it. It really does not need this kind of advertisement looking at how good it is. Another minor criticism from me is how quickly Mädel's character completely changes his opinion about who is to decide what will happen and I personally tend to agree with his early statement. At least to some extent. Or another minor issue was the ending. The decision they make to end it with her professional life was nothing I liked too much. I felt the aspect of her work as a stand-up comedian was okay to be included and also added some solid scenes to the film, but it was never the center of it. They missed the perfect moment to end the film when they show her with her baby on her breast. But yeah, you really have to look closely to find any flaws with this film. My personal situation has very little to do with the one of the protagonists, but I can imagine that people who had an abortion or a miscarriage etc. will enjoy this film even much more than I did because it strikes on such a personal level and there really is a great deal of emotion in here, positive as well as negative. A definite contender for best German film of 2016 and by now it is also a contender for Best Film 2016 in general taking all other countries into account. This is a really touching statement and a lot of it is thanks to Jentsch and (to a slightly lesser extent) Mädel. I highly recommend the watch, in particular to people with children or people who were in a similar situation as I mentioned before. This film is also a really heartfelt pro-Down Syndrome people statement. Go see it please.
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Yes, sister, speak out!
b_velkova1 February 2019
Warning: Spoilers
An expecting mother finds out that her baby will be severely disabled and starts to search for ways to accomodate to the new situation. It's not among my themes, so I wasn't actually planning to see how it goes but since it was the movie's last day on ArteKino, I played it. At the beginning, I wasn't even paying attention and then - bam! She started to question the imperative to sacrifice both hers and her baby's life as she imagines it in the name of social duty and Christian values. And she actually had the balls to act on it! Because it's not the easy way out, as some might think. Now I see why 24 Weeks was given the ArteKino audience award. It was prerhaps a way for a lot of people to express feelings they are not allowed to have. It turns out that an enormous percentage of the future mothers confronted with such news make the same choice. But where are they? In hiding. Like all the rest who ever did or at least wanted to do the unacceptable. We like this movie.
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It's a matter of birth and death.
Reno-Rangan4 October 2017
A simple film and its sensitive theme. German films usually impresses me and this is another under-noticed film, needs some uplift. Not like a must see, but totally worth it. While I was watching it, I thought the film's characters turned a simple thing as a too complicate event. But yes, it's not that simple when it's related to pregnancy. Of course, it's different from faith to faith, between believers and non-believers. Then my mind went to the very ancient age. How all the animals shared the earth equally. But humans, a very unique from all, not the same as of now.

Today, every day the technologies upgraded to an even better level. So why do we obsessed with that! To make life easier? Yes. Then there's always something that stops us benefiting from them. It lies within us, none other than 'emotions'! Why I'm saying all this! There's a reason that this film's main purpose to highlight how humans act while there's a technology to thwart errors in its initial stage itself. But we're mentally struggling, since life and death or the purpose of the living being was not yet explained by the science.

I'm not a person of god. I don't believe in souls. I do believe only in consciousness. In my world, it replaces the word soul. But from all, there's a big difference between pain with conscious and pain without consciousness. A baby born with an empty hard disk. Then it adds all the memories to it when he experiences the things using his five senses. That's the complicated one. The opposite to it is the abortion. That's what this film is about.

I might have went a too far from the film, but happy to add some details. If you watch this film, definitely you would choose a side and back it till the climax. So one of the sections of people would get disappointed with the result of the story. In that case, I was neither. The film was not a thriller, though I felt edgy during the last few minutes. I did not know which way it's heading. Prepared for any unexpected twist. Then it came to an end, and I did not think whether it was any good or bad, except satisfied with the truth, the reality, a slice of life as I've seen through this flick.

❝Great. One child's disabled, the other's a fascist.❞

A well designed story and the characters. It revolved around a celebrity. That was a perfect start. Adding a big star, who goes through a difficult time. She's at 24 weeks pregnant with her supportive husband and a young daughter. The life is so smooth, until one day when the couple discovers the baby could be born with a disability. They decide to have it by preparing for it in advance. Then another blow brings a fresh challenge for them as a couple, as a family and with a strong emotions. Now the life's upside down. From there where it all heads are the rest of the story to tell its viewers.

Definitely a powerful theme. As I already mentioned, the people split over what the film characters fighting over. Hence it won't receive well in all the quarters. But there's a fact to consider, which this film mostly borrowed from for its ending. I would say a well done film. Filmmakers make films to make money, to make people laugh, to make see the truth and various other reasons. I'm not saying it was an awareness, a message film, but totally a fact based. Like how in the modern world, even compared to a couple of decades ago, they determine things accordingly. But remember this is not the first film to deal with such theme. We've seen similar films, and most of them were a sub-plots.

One of the highlights of the story was, it was not about a single person. It is about a small family, and how each one reacted to what they have found was very accurately portrayed. Since it was a present era based, where thing are different from before generation, the story had some flaws. I mean not a bad writings or something, but the relationship between each others. Once again, what I meant was the woman empowerment. Directed by a woman filmmaker, told the story from a woman's perspective, I felt this was what lack in the real society as well, particularly in the developing countries and/or religiously obsessed ones.

I liked everyone in the film. The pace was good. Overall an engaging storyline with a fine runtime. You could watch it for many reasons, or maybe none, but not a bad film to ignore. I don't think so they should have improved it a little more. In my eyes, it was a perfect little flick. One of the rare for sure. That does not mean I've rated it out of out. But who knows, what I'm saying could be overwhelming personal opinion, that once watched it you might realise that.

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Looks interesting.
richard-lutz-3078224 February 2016
James Woodall wrote: "Julia Jentsch, another on-screen and on-stage favourite in Germany, is a celebrity stand-up comedian who finds out, some 20 weeks in, that her second child will have Down's syndrome and holes in his heart. Bluntly, to abort or not to abort is the dilemma at the film's heart — and this might touch, though not overtly, on historical memory of Nazi policy towards the handicapped. That is not what the film is about, but, giving nothing away, it grips like nothing else I've seen in German cinema in the past decade. Tough, searing stuff indeed." ('What is a serious film festival doing opening with Hail, Caesar!', The Spectator, 20/2/16).
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