Berlin (dpa) – It starts in the metro. The shaking camera begins today, travels through the station, and reappears on the other side in Berlin during the Weimar Republic. He’s standing there, Fabian. A man appears next to him, his face destroyed by war.

Director Dominik Graf has adapted a novel by Erich Kästner (1899-1974) into his new film “Fabian or the Dog Walk”.

The story tells the story of Germanist Jakob Fabian (Tom Schilling), who will soon lose his job as a copywriter in a cigarette factory. He has fun with alcohol and women (“My taste tends to be blond, experience speaks against”) and wanders the nightlife with the hapless lover Labude (Albrecht Schuch).

He soon meets Cornelia Battenberg. She wants to be an actress. It is played by Saskia Rosendahl (“work without author”). A love is formed between them, which is told very lightly, with naked jokes and delicate dialogues. But the story will end tragically. How many at that time.

Berlin as a sinful cabinet of curiosities, as shown in the film on the one hand. Blocks of ice are cut out and imaginary Siberian accents are used. In the midst of it all, Meret Becker dreams of a men’s brothel in an incredibly shabby role. And while people yearn for love and drown in vanities, National Socialism grows stronger in the background.

The last years of the Weimar Republic

“We’re all on the same train and time travel,” he says at one point in the film. “We are looking outside. We have seen enough. We are all on the same train and no one knows how far. Two years before Adolf Hitler and the National Socialists came to power, the film recounts the last years of the Weimar Republic.

Director Graf uses many cinematographic means. The film has a more square aspect ratio. Sometimes a shaking camera guides you through the action. You can see a compilation of historical recordings and staged scenes, loud music and calm dialogue. It creates a very fascinating collage. However, the film has its lengths and with all the stylistic tricks it wants too much.

Director Dominik Graf himself is almost a legendary figure. Every time he makes a “police call” or a “crime scene” it brings joy to many viewers. He directed the detective series “Imendes Verbrechens” and “The Cat” with Götz George. It is not the first time that he has taken an interest in historical material – with “The Beloved Sisters” he is interested in Weimar in the 18th century.

Fabien and morality

In its three hours, “Fabian” now tells mostly a romantic story, but also asks what compass one wants to follow in life. As a legal person, can you survive in an immoral world? Tom Schilling, Saskia Rosendahl and Albrecht Schuch – with them an excellent cast has been found.

The following sentence “The dog walk” – with this title Kästner’s novel was republished in an uncensored version a few years ago – already indicates the answer. “A neighbor is sleeping, another is complaining. A third person talks a lot, ”she says in a movie scene. “The stations are announced. The train that goes through the years never reaches its destination. “

Fabian or The Walk to the Dogs, Germany 2021, 176 min., FSK from 12, by Dominik Graf, with Tom Schilling, Saskia Rosendahl, Albrecht Schuch, Meret Becker