“Naked over Berlin”: Two outsiders play God
Wild, colorful, unexpected: The unlikely friends Jannik and Tai spend all night long, fall in love and come up with a momentous plan. This mini-series is a mix of thriller and coming-of-age story.
A middle-aged man lies unconscious in the bathtub with his wrists slashed. Blood streams down the sides of the tub. In a panic, a chubby teenager gains entry to the chic high-rise apartment with a view Berlin, drags the fully dressed man out of the water. He gets help. What happened?
Flashback, ten days earlier: The good-natured Jannik (Lorenzo Germeno) enters the schoolyard and is immediately bullied by his classmates because of his overweight. An annoyed teacher intervenes. It is the man who will later lie in the full tub. “Naked over Berlin” initially resembles a puzzle game. The six-part series runs on Thursday from 8:15 p.m. on Arte and again on Friday from 10:20 p.m. on Erste. Both broadcasters have also put the mini-series in their media libraries.
What begins like a crime thriller is primarily a stormy queer coming-of-age story between friendship and first love. It’s about the contrasts between societal expectations of young men and their true emotions. Tai (Anh Khoa Trần), whose family comes from Vietnam, is just as much of an outsider as Jannik. For the classmates the two are “Fetti” and “Fiji”. “Fiji” is a common hate word against people of Asian descent in East Germany.
The introverted Jannik, who can lose himself in classical music like his role model Tchaikovsky, falls in love with the IT genius Tai. Tai opens up his family and his Vietnamese world in Berlin to Jannik.
Jannik’s father (Devid Striesow) doesn’t think much of his son. He sees the soft, overweight, music-loving teenager as a clear contrast to the muscular young men he himself trains in competitive sports. He is considering subjecting Jannik to hormone therapy so that he can grow “down there too”. The mother (Alwara Höfels), on the other hand, loves Jannik unconditionally and is not surprised when he comes out to her as gay after a night out.
When the two friends pick up their completely drunk school principal Jens Lamprecht one night and bring him to his apartment, they lock him up there. At first it was intended as a joke. But then Tai doesn’t let the director out again. Instead, he uses his technical skills to take complete control of Lamprecht’s high-tech apartment. The teacher finds that he has become a prisoner, completely monitored by an anonymous voice that calls itself “God” and is searching for his sins.
Jannik realizes that Tai blames the director for the death of a classmate who committed suicide. During the eight days that Lamprecht is locked up, he reveals more and more of the tragic story. In the worthwhile mini-series by Axel Ranisch – produced by Südwestrundfunk and Arte – it soon becomes apparent: Tai has his own motives.