Faraway – Review

Faraway NetflixThere surely cannot be any more romantic stories left to tell in cinema. Boy meets girl, the pair don’t get on, there’s a big mix up and, eventually, they fall in love. It’s a story that’s been told in a multitude of different settings, with interchangeable leads. And yet, we still want to hear these stories. They provide escapism, perhaps an exotic location and – let’s be honest – a gorgeous lead or two to swoon over.

Luckily, Vanessa Jopp’s multi-lingual Netflix film, Faraway, ticks all of the boxes and more. She centres her story around Zeynep (Naomi Krauss), a middle-aged Turkish-German who is about to bury her mother. She’s also convinced that her chef husband is having an affair with his much younger new colleague. And so, on the day of her mother’s funeral (an exasperating series of events in itself), she decides she’s had enough. She discovers that her mother owns property in the idyllic Croatian municipality of Luč so that is exactly where she is headed.

Of course, the usual dramatic change of lifestyle antics ensues. Public transport simply isn’t the same as it is in the city and Zeynep suddenly finds herself on uneven country roads, surrounded by sheep and goats. Her mother’s property, as it turns out, is currently being lived in by Josip (Goran Bogdan, whose illustrious career includes Otac, The Last Panthers and Fargo). He’s handsome, sure, but he asks a lot of probing questions and is simply furious when Zeynep hints that she might sell the property and its surrounding land so that it can become an Air BnB.

You absolutely know where this is going but that is entirely beside the point. Firstly, it’s nice to see two leads who are not only age appropriate for each other but aren’t “flawed twenty somethings” who insist they gorge on ice cream and burgers despite remaining rail thin. These are two characters who have lived and are willing to find something new to live for. Their problems – be they marital, familial or financial – are relatable and rooted in reality. Their slow burn romance is sensual yet gentle. It’s a delight to watch unfold.

Both Krauss and Bogdan also show a knack for comedic timing – be it physical comedy or throwaway one liners. There’s a lightness about both their performances that you don’t usually get to see in the types of roles they typically take on. And, despite all the cliches about mix ups and “will they / won’t they”, you will find yourself rooting for their romance (largely because their chemistry is so authentic). Krauss has such an irresistible warmth about her, drawing you into her story and willing her on in her transformation. Physically, she goes from dark clothing and a huddled in posture to summer pastels and a palpable joie de vivre.

Faraway NetflixGoran Bogdan is, quite frankly, the dream for any woman feeling lost or in need of adventure. Although, that’s not to sense his performance is two dimensional. His effortless sweetness with Zeynep is so utterly endearing, as is his love for his home town. But you can tell there’s a wee fire in his belly when he talks about his brother running off with his wife or preventing greedy property developers from ruining the sense of community and history in Luč.

It’s also a genuinely beautiful film to look at. The tourist board in Croatia should snap cinematographer Katharina Bühler up – she has showcased a multi-coloured paradise. Whitewashed stone houses with red roofs pepper the small harbour town whilst the sea positively sparkles in the sunlight. The verdant landscape is speckled with rich bursts of hot pink, sunshine yellow and cornflower blue flowers. It’s such a huge contrast to Zeynep’s brown and cream city apartment, packed full of paperwork and clutter. Is it any wonder she’s only too happy to give it all up for “the simple life”, as she puts it.

Faraway is a lovely, heart-warming watch. With its upbeat, pop-laden soundtrack, lush views and two fantastic leads, it’s the perfect film to while away a cosy evening in.

Faraway is now streaming on Netflix.

Mary Munoz
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