Friday, 25 August 2017
Tigermilch (3½ Stars)
Jameelah is a 14-year-old refugee from Iraq. She lives in Berlin with her mother, but they're in danger of being deported. Jameelah's greatest desire is to lose her virginity before she leaves Germany.
The film's trailer gave me the impression that this would be a comedy, but it was misleading. It's a very serious film which deals with important topics.
First of all, what is the "tiger milk" in the film's name? It's the name of a cocktail that Jameelah and her best friend Nini drink together: milk, maracuja juice and brandy. It sounds delicious. I really must mix it for myself. As far as I could tell from watching the girls mix it, it's equal portions of the three ingredients poured into a jug.
The girls are seemingly mismatched. Jameela is the top of her class, Nini is the worst. What unites the two 14-year-olds is their love of life. Whatever they do has to be fun. Jameela has left the war behind, and all she wants to do in her new country is party. In a way she's Nini's salvation. Nini doesn't get on well with her step-father and wants to spend as much time as possible away from home. She spends her time at Jameela's apartment, sharing food and social life as if they were sisters, only going home to sleep.
Their life changes on one fateful night. The girls are dancing naked in a small park near Jameela's apartment, scattering rose petals in the air. They hide in a playground when they hear someone coming. They see a man and woman arguing, after which he stabs her to death. Rather than report the murder to the police -- they recognised the murderer -- they steal her jewellery. The girls promise one another not to tell anyone what they saw, but two days later one of their school friends confesses to the murder. Nini feels that she must break her promise by telling the police that their friend isn't the murderer.
There are a few major storylines intertwined in the film. The friendship between the two girls, the comng-of-age-drama, honour killings and the hatred of different refugee groups towards one another.
That would be enough to make a good film. Unfortunately, other things are added that over-burden the film. We see Nini's younger sister Jessie having her first period. Irrelevant to the story. Jessie, who's probably about ten years old, drinks alcohol. Also irrelevant. Nini goes to hospital for a dental operation. Irrelevant. The boy that Jameelah loves gets another girl pregnant. Totally irrelevant. If all of these things had been deleted from the film the main story could have been told in more detaill.