- David Zak
NEUMATT Reaches New Heights.
If Arthur Miller was writing for NetFlix today, the result might look something like NEUMATT (New Heights), in which a struggling farmer's three children decide the fate of his small Swiss farm. At times I thought of Lear's three children, as Michi, Sarah, and Lorenz struggle with their demons and each other since the land, now surrounded by housing, has great value.
Julian Koechlin is outstanding as Michi, a gay consultant whose ambitious dreams of becoming a 'Wolf of Wall Street" are undercut by his addictions. On the verge of success, he beds a new man from work (Benito Bause), illustrating his 'no rules, new fun' mantra. Bause is terrific as the partner who comes through repeatedly despite being continually and deliberately tested. Koechlin and Bause have great sexual chemistry that sizzles whether in or out of their clothes. Now a man of the city, Michi has no intention of returning to the farm until he gets a life-changing phone call.
Sarah (Sophie Hutter) has also fled the farm to set up a struggling fitness center. She will do anything to get the resources she feels are rightfully hers. As portrayed by Hutter, the character startles and surprises throughout.
But it is Jérôme Humm as Lorenz, the brother who is the soul of the farm, who will win your heart. Lorenz's love for his animals and inability to succeed on his school exams make him loveable on many levels.
Rachel Braunschweig is powerful as a woman whose choices early in life impacted all three of her children and granddaughter. Many minor characters offer terrific context for the town.
NEUMATT explores powerful, classic familial and social issues with new twists. It is, at times wonderfully tense. Don't worry if you lose details of the business decisions regarding milk farming: the family is what is essential, and the relationships save the day.
The film's creator Marianne Wendt, directors Sabine Boss and Pierre Monard, and their team of six screenwriters do outstanding work. The designs are excellent, and the European setting adds greatly to our viewing pleasure.