The German feature This Is Where I Meet You begins with young actress Charlotte (Helene Blechinger) at a low point after an audition that goes poorly, and she was not cast in the play. Just as her floundering career is causing Charlotte to rethink her path in life, her boyfriend Georg (Anton Spieker) takes her on a camping trip to the beach in Croatia. The trip is meant as an opportunity to relax, but also for him to try to meet music promoters at a nearby music festival to further his own opportunities as a burgeoning DJ.
Georg focuses on the festival, while Charlotte is bored and frustrated at their campsite. Moving around the other campers’ activities, she meets a self-selected urban shaman, an older man named Benno (Peter Marty), and a woman she feels an immediate attraction to named Tami (Tala Al Deen). Charlotte, Benno, and Tami form an instant close social unit with a unique energy. They have deep conversations about the meaning of life, around profound levels of drinking, smoking weed, dancing, and joining in Benno’s spiritual healing sessions.
Georg returns from the festival, but he is uncomfortable when suddenly confronted with Charlotte’s new friends. He is not part of that social fabric and feels left out. He’s also annoyed that while he’s spending time productively advancing his career, she seems to be adrift, floating in a haze of burning sage and weed.
Benno and Tami are the friends you make traveling, where a sudden click leads you to experience a connection that you know is superficial but feels deeply profound. Charlotte’s vision quest helps her learn about herself while enjoying this downtime from her life. In the isolated micro-universe of the beach camp, a magic place and time are created. A bubble of energy cut off from daily life stresses, where waves and sunsets open emotional tableaus as powerful as they are temporary.
“…causing her to rethink her path in life, her boyfriend Georg takes her on a camping trip to the beach…”
While there are compelling moments in the film, it tends toward the dull side. With no 3-act traditional structure, essentially, the viewer is hanging out with Charlotte at the beach. Attractive young people, beach sunsets, music, booze, and leisure time all have their charms, to be sure, but only if you’re there. Charlotte’s insights come from an internal quest that the viewer is not privy to, for the most part, and emotions run mild as no one seems inclined to express anything more dynamic than frustrated ennui.
Writer/director Katharina Ludwig describes Charlotte’s journey in her artistic statement: “This Is Where I Meet You is not a ‘classic’ film, but a film that is discovered and felt over time. A road movie with its own pulse. I wanted to tell a story of a struggling female artist who finds new perspective and strength in embracing her ‘failings’ and finally trusting her inner life to lead the way.”
She says the film is “deliberately narrated outside of the conflict-based paradigm and sends the viewer on an emotional journey. In this story, there is no enemy, no fight to win or lose, but a truth to be discovered.”
It is easy to watch and doesn’t run long enough to drag, and that’s a saving grace. There are moments to enjoy, but to an audience dealing with adult life issues like mortgages and kids to raise, This Is Where I Meet You may come off as pretentious youthful indulgence. However, even if it strikes you that way, it’s inoffensive, and it may carve out a place in your day to chill out and reflect on your own path.
"…experience a connection that you know is superficial, but feels deeply profound."