Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Freaks: You're One Of Us

directed by Felix Binder


What happens to people when they realise they have more power than they thought possible? This is one of the questions posed by Freaks: You're One Of Us, a superhero film about the power relationships between people. Wendy (Cornelia Groschel) is a fry chef working in a diner, and one of life's downtrodden. Entitled customers disrespect her, she gets heckled by men on the way home from work, her boss won't give her a raise so her family faces debt and hardship, and her son Karl (Finnlay Berger).

A chance encounter with Marek (Wotan Wilke Mohring), a guy she thinks is a tramp, sets her on a different course. She learns that she's got powers, and that there are other people like her who also have them. But they must be careful, because normal people fear them and have gone to lengths to suppress their powers and lock them up. So Marek hides away, and is wary of doing anything to help the superpowered people he believes are being persecuted.

Elmar (Tim Oliver Schultz), Wendy's co-worker, is a big fan of comic book superheroes, and is amongst the first people she confides in about her new-found powers. Elmar is drawn into her extraordinary world, and perhaps takes to this reality with an enthusiasm that crosses the line from nerdy into cringe-worthy. He's living with his father and stepmother, in spite of not getting along at all well with them. Elmar has something of a soft spot for Wendy, but he doesn't know if it's mutual.

Wendy's husband Lars (Frederic Linkemann) is a security guard, but of the ordinary variety rather than the tooled-up gym fanatic type. He's unaware at first of everything that's changing in Wendy's life. He's a counter to her crazy superhero world. But how will he take the news that she can fling a man through the air as easily as most people could throw a tennis ball?

Whilst rarely laugh-out-loud funny, this movie has a light-hearted humour that makes it pretty enjoyable. This often comes from the depth and nuance that the main characters are given by the actors. It's a pleasant change to watch a superhero movie where the heroes and villains come across as mostly down-to-earth, flawed people rather than almost cardboard cut-out personalities. They're totally relatable, particularly Wendy and Lars. And where there is an overdose of ego in a character, this gets sent up to good effect.

With a few unexpected twists, the plot is engaging and the action builds up to an exciting crescendo. But without a doubt this film's greatest strength is in the family relationships, which even when they're fraught have an undercurrent of sweetness.

One thing I found questionable was the suggestion that super-strength would solve some of Wendy's problems, or would even fix any of them. That seemed poorly thought through, because there's far more stopping most strong people from throwing their weight around to get what they want than whether or not they can. So we see things from the point of view of someone with superpowers, but is Wendy on her way to becoming a supervillain? There's a morally ambiguous start to her journey in the first part of the story. However, this makes the ending less predictable, and it's definitely worth watching to the end to find out how she deals with the moral choices before her.

6th November 2020

Film Details

Year: 2020

Categories: Films


Classification: 12

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4 star rating

Review ©

Source: Netflix streaming