Over here on the western side of the Atlantic Ocean, Johann Goethe isn’t so well known. Outside of the world of literature and prose, his name is known but not as well as it should be. In the 2010 film Young Goethe In Love (simply titled Goethe! in Deutschland), director Philipp Stölzl (best known for North Face and countless music videos) brings to life part of Goethe’s story.
That story brought to film is a brief time when the 22 year old, having failed so far to find success or even confidence as a poet and writer, is a little rowdy and a little immature. He’s not doing well in law school and his father forces him into a job at a law practice in the small town of Wetzlar — a far cry from the big, bustling city of Frankfurt. While there he falls in love, hence the title, loses his best friend, and finds inspiration for The Sorrows of Young Werther, the novel that would make him an international star. Sounds interesting so far, right? Except it’s not true.
Alexander Fehling, who portrays the as yet unsuccessful poet and who you may remember as the new father celebrating his son’s birth at the pub in Inglorious Basterds, carries the film with strong acting and likable charisma. The always fabulous Moritz Bleibtreu (Run Lola Run, Das Experiment, The Baader Meinhof Complex) portrays Goethe’s boss, Albert Kestner as quiet and kind of geeky. While Kestner and Goethe’s common love interest, Lotte, is portrayed charmingly by Miriam Stein.
Young Goethe In Love is no biopic. Although highly fictionalized, Young Goethe In Love is a fun and enjoyable film. It’s part drama and part comedy, a little fluffy and not taking itself too seriously. And you’ll likely enjoy it if you don’t take it too seriously either.