Heikos Welt (2021)

This was one of those rare occurrences of going into the cinema and just watching a movie you know nothing about and that movie actually proving to be a heck of a ride. Heikos Welt is a very enjoyable story with low stakes and bubbly rewards, that deserves more word of mouth – and some English subtitles.

I was in Dortmund a few weeks ago and identified the old-school Schauburg cinema as a target destination, only to find out it was so old school, that all movies were screened in German. Watching anything dubbed is so far out of the question, that no reasonable person would ask it, so it was time to put my 12+ years of German education to good use and risk it with a complete unknown.

Heiko, our titular character, is your average man going about his life – i.e. single and living with his mother. His days regularly end in the local bar, with the usual fauna and the familiar beverages. What’s unusual about Heiko is that drinking a few beers does miracles to his coordination, which unearths an unknown talent in playing darts. When his mother’s eyesight begins to deteriorate rapidly, he’s got to find a way to pay for surgery – and, you guessed it, a darts competition offers just the required prize money.

You’d think the movie is set for a beaten path, but an enigmatic romantic interest, a daring heist and some German schalgers ensure your expectations will be surpassed. Director-writer Dominik Galizia has a steady hand and put together a well-tuned story about a likable lead, portrayed with flair by first-timer Martin Rhode. Rhode’s charm is the key ingredient to the success of Heikos Welt, ensuring you have someone to root for, in a (properly old-school) feel-good fashion. But it sure helps that all the supporting cast provides authentic performances, starting with Leyla Roy and ending with Franz Rogowski’s inspired cameo.

It’s just so great to find real escapist experiences, movies that transport you to a safe haven, where you can just forget about those pesky, festering existential wounds. Heikos Welt is a great specimen in this regard, nothing more, nothing less, which also gifts a zippy original song from Rocco Vice.

I feel a bit bad about recommending a movie that is pretty much unwatchable outside of Germany at this time, but teasing the appetite is a good thing, isn’t it? 7