In July (2000) / Comedy-Romance
aka Im Juli.
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but definitely would be R for language, drug use, mild violence and sexuality
Running Time: 98 min.
Cast: Moritz Bleibtreu, Christiane Paul, Idil Uner, Mehmet Kurtulus, Branka Katic, Jochen Nickel, Sandra Borgmann, Birol Unel
Director: Fatih Akin
Screenplay: Fatih Akin
Review published June 27, 2004
At its core, In July is a run-of-the-mill road trip romantic comedy, utilizing a by-the-numbers approach to build around. In many ways, this is the same formula laid down by Frank Capra's It Happened One Night, later followed by Rob Reiner's 1985 hit, The Sure Thing, whereby a man goes out to meet the woman of his dreams, not realizing that the annoying travel companion that he gets to know just might be better than his idealized babe in waiting. Formulaic though it may be, In July manages to overcome its redundant qualities with ease, thanks to the fresh writing and directing of Fatih Akin, who mixes the comedic and dramatic elements in near perfect fashion, while also introducing the much needed sprinklings of magical happenstance that makes all of the convenient contrivances play out as if it were ordained by destiny.
Bleibtreu (Run Lola Run, Das Experiment) plays Daniel, a mild-mannered physics teacher who is sold a fancy ring by a free-spirited young woman named Juli (Paul) at the local street market. The Mayan-flavored ring has a sun design, and Juli lets on that Daniel will meet his next lover, a woman also bearing the symbol of the sun. Not too long afterward, Daniel encounters a beautiful Turkish woman, Melek (Uner, Mostly Martha), who he has a lovely evening with before she departs for her home city of Istanbul. Believing that they were fated to be together, Daniel decides to go on his quest to Turkey to find Melek, and along the way, he re-encounters Juli, who tags along because she secretly is enamored of him.
In July is a dessert film, richly crafted to make you feel good, and along those lines, it is quite effective. The ensemble of actors and their crazy characters are first-rate, with nebbish Bleibtreu showing a believability in his awkwardness that never relies on stereotype. The various European locales are also well captured, making this a nice trip for us as viewers as well. All in all, it's a breezy affair, but just like a sunny day "in July", this breeze is very welcome.
©2004 Vince Leo