Perspektive Deutsches Kino “Meteor Street” by Aline Fischer

“Meteor Street” by Aline Fischer
“Meteor Street” by Aline Fischer | © credo:film

When a young female French writer-director makes a German-language film about young Arabic men in Berlin, attention is certain for this film. “Meteor Street” by Aline Fischer reflects the current discourse around asylum and immigration in Germany and Europe.

Erractically on-edge and fantastically annoying troublemaker Lakdhar – the commanding Oktay Özdemir – is cast against his quiet, brooding younger brother Mohammed, noteworthy newcomer Hussein Eliraqui (himself a Lebanese refugee in Germany), a role he infuses with sensitivity, yearning as well as enough grit to be rounded. Loudmouth Lakdhar makes himself heard; Mohammed we get to know through the camera circling and approaching, caressing its struggling subject. Bit by bit we put together the puzzle of everything that pulls on Mohammed, his own sense of not arriving and not achieving while trying so hard; being without his mother and father; feeling responsible for his near-psychotic older brother; the xenophobic suspicion by some of his colleagues.

Meaning and identity

Berlin-Tegel district is the metaphorical arrival-and-departure setting, where the brothers share a house next to the noisy airport. Noisy as war-torn Beirut in the opening scene, a juxtaposition helped by a semi-documentary style that marks many recent German productions (like 24 Weeks or Toro). In one scene, the air traffic noise is cut against the quiet, contemplative prayer Mohammed squeezes into the little apartment and the brothers’ non-religious lives, searching for a framework and meaning and identity. “Where do you come from?” Mohamed gets asked at the end, in France. “Germany”, is his answer. The film’s title, the street in Berlin where the brothers live, has them dreaming of if not reaching for the stars. In one great scene Mohammed climbs up on the street signs at the corner of Saturn Street and Meteor Street.

Struggle for place and definition

Some things Aline Fischer leaves beautifully unsaid and uncommented, which gives the film a levity and unpreachiness despite the sombre and slow story. She introduces Mohammed into a crew of working-class bike-riding German labourers, doing odd jobs, in a refreshingly uncomplicatedly way (treacherously so, as it turns out). The brothers are on their own, even together, neither getting real support, not from family, friends, colleagues. The free-roaming camera gets close to the protagonists, highlighting their quiet struggle for a place and a definition of what it means to be a man.

Just when you think nothing will happen, Mohammed makes a crucial (if constructed) decision. And still I don't mind. The film is nuanced, committed, carefully observing and not taking the easy way out, with a nicely wafting ending mirroring the brothers’ lives.