In July
(Im Juli)

foreign films

In July (Im Juli)
Made in: Germany
Language: German, Turkish, English, Bulgarian, Romanian
Director: Fatih Akin
Starring: Moritz Bleibtreu, Christiane Paul, Idil Üner, Mehmet Kurtulus, Birol Ünel, Fatih Akin
Year: 2000

Synopsis: Daniel Bannier (Moritz Bleibtreu) is a young, mild-mannered physics teacher who's on his way to getting official certification. But during summer break, he finds himself wandering around in Bulgaria. Having lost his passport and wallet, he hitch-hikes and meets up with Isa (Mehmet Kurtulus), a nutty Turk who, unbenknownst to Daniel, is traveling with a dead body in his trunk.

Daniel explains that he's on his way to Instanbul, and coincidentally, so is Isa. While on the road, Daniel recounts his harrowing, bizarre, and sometimes hilarious journey.

He starts of in Hamburg, where a free spirited, hippy-ish girl named July (Christiane Paul) sells him a ring. July has a secret crush on the geeky Daniel, and invites him to a street festival. But while there, Daniel meets a beautiful Turkish girl named Melek (Idil Üner). Melek is only passing through Hamburg from Berlin, and is flying to Istanbul. At the end of the week, she is to meet someone at a well-known bridge on the Bosporous Strait.

After spending only one evening with her, Daniel falls in love. And soon after he drops Melek off at the airport, he decides to go on a road trip and arrive at Istanbul in time to catch up with her. By chance, he comes across a hitch-hiking July, and they head to Turkey together.

But soon after they get started, the trip turns into a series of international misadventures involving truck drivers, marijuana, crazy Hungarians, foul-mouthed Romanians, and Turkish prisons. And along the way, the two discover their true romantic destinies...

The Good: A simple, focused plot keeps In July on track, and you really get the sense that you're traveling through Europe. Towards the second half, the trouble that Daniel gets into becomes progressively more entertaining, and there are some solid laughs along the way.

Director Fatih Akin, who also has a small role as a Romanian border guard, is very good at creating multi-layered characters.

All of the people whom Daniel crosses paths with are revealed to have different sides to their personalities, which makes much of the story unpredictable and interesting. Daniel finds enemies and allies under the strangest of circumstances, as every country he drives through becomes a different adventure.

The themes of fate and destiny are strong, and Akin does a good job keeping them consistent throughout the narrative.

The Bad: The first half of In July is a little slow, and some of the "hippy stuff" isn't for everyone. Some of the drug references and trippy scenes might also turn off some viewers, but fortunately the whole movie doesn't go down that path.

As a matter of logic, it's hard to believe that Daniel is able to make it through the second half of his journey without money, ID, and a shower. Although Moritz Bleibtreu is a good actor and does well as a sympathetic character, he seemed a little too serious for the more comedic moments.

Who would like this movie: Fans of foreign films (and different languages) will appreciate In July, and this one's also for you if you like road movies, traveling, and don't mind occasional psychedelic subject matter.

Although it takes a little while to get interesting, the pace of the second half definitely picks up. The love story works well enough, and overall it's a fun movie that contains some clever, hilarious moments.

(3 out of 4 stars)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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