Synopsis by Mark Deming
The political and social upheaval of the reunification of Germany provides the backdrop for this romantic comedy-drama. Jan Nebel (Jurgen Vogel), a young slaughterhouse worker who doesn't like to work much more than is necessary in order to keep his job, is walking home through Berlin one evening when he finds himself strolling into the middle of a riot. He sees a woman named Vera (Christiane Paul) trying to get away from a pair of cops; Jan trips the police officers, which earns him Vera's gratitude and a night behind bars. Jan's unexpected detainment causes him to lose his job, which doesn't bother him very much except that he'll be short on money. Jan decides to pay his father a visit only to discover that the old man has died; Jan takes over his apartment, and his friend Buddy (Ricky Tomlinson) joins him as a flatmate and pays him rent. Death pays a visit of its own to Jan when he learns that one of his former girlfriends has tested positive for the HIV virus; while Jan is understandably upset, he's too frightened of the possible results to be tested himself. While Jan is dealing with his many anxieties, he runs into Vera for the first time since the riot; they get to know each other better, and they are soon engaged in a passionate romance, though they take many twists down the bumpy road of love. Das Leben Ist Eine Baustelle was a prize winner at several major festivals in its native Germany, including a special award at the 1997 Berlin International Film Festival for writer and director Wolfgang Becker "for the humorous and ironic portrayal of the changes taking place in present-day Berlin."
bad-luck, death, love, reconstruction, romance