Netflixable? A Cross-Cultural Rom-Com from “Faraway”

Germany, Turkey and Croatia aren’t exactly hotspots for romantic comedies. But today’s “Around the World with Netflix” offering samples all three languages and cultures for a stunningly scenic and sometimes adorable bit of formulaic fun.

“Faraway” is about a neglected wife and taken-for-granted mother, wife and daughter who flees from Germany to Croatia after her elderly mother dies. Because sometimes, all it takes is a change of scene to figure out — in an instant, or maybe a few days of instants — just how miserable you are.

We learn an awful lot about the Turco-German Zeynep (Naomi Krauss) in one harried morning breakfast scene.

Her dad (Vedak Erincin) treats her like a washerwoman and valet as she scrambles to get everyone up and fed and ready for the day. Her laid-back husband (Adnan Maral), a chef running their restaurant, is leisurely enjoying his breakfast and thinks nothing of eating the lone piece of toast she buttered for herself to gulp down in a dash. Her college-age daughter (Bahar Balci) is a sullen, phone-distracted brat too lazy to get a move on, and determined to dress down and tart up for the day’s big event.

We’ve barely had time to process what jerks they are, to a one, when we realize what day today is. Zeynep is burying her mother.

An elderly lawyer upstairs drops off some papers he was keeping for her mother, and they’re off to the funeral. Well, almost all of them. Husband Ilyas forgot. And he had Zeynep’s eulogy with him. She rushes into the restaurant only to find him flirting with his new cook.

That’s what sends her home to grab those “papers,” to her phone, looking up directions to Croatia, to “The Island Between the Sky and Sea” where her mother grew up. Mom secretly kept the fact that she bought a house there years ago from her self-absorbed husband. “Zeyne” swipes the restaurant’s catering van and flees.

Arriving, by ferry, in the middle of the night, she navigates to a charming, primitive (no electricity) cliffside stone cottage that began life hundreds of years ago as a stable. When she wakes up in the morning, having slept in her Spanx, she finds a naked Croat (Goran Bogdan) in the bed with her.

Therein lies a tale.

Unhappy women running away to “Eat, Pray Love” or live in Provence, Greece or “Under the Tuscan Sun” stories are practically a genre unto themselves, and “Faraway” hews to the tried and true formula of such films.

There’s a language barrier, so she and Josip — the previous owner who stayed for 15 years “until someone showed up” to claim the property — communicate in English. Cultures clash. She wants to “R & B” the place, prompting him to correct her to “Airbnb” and flip the eff out.

But we know where this “meet cute” — “I barely recognize you with your clothes on!” — is going, even as Zeyne comes to grips with the life she is hellbent on not going back to, even as the hunky young real estate agent Conrad (Artjom Gilz) puts the drunken moves on her.

Josip takes to calling that greedy swine “Macron,” which fits. But he’s moved out of the house and into a tent in the yard with his goat, and sets out to sabotage Zeyne’s property-owning plans.

There’s nothing all that deep going on here, just a woman “finding herself” in cultures not known for stories about women finding themselves. The semi-comical sheep stampede arrives, right on cue, as does the flock of geese following Zeyne and her battered bicycle down the quaint country lane.

A little bisexual inclusion, an amusing brawl amongst all the men fighting for her attention, and you’ve got an international comedy that rises to “cute” just often enough to justify something you’d watch just for the novelty and beauty of the setting.

Rating: TV-MA, nudity, profanity

Cast: Naomi Krauss, Goran Bogdan, Adnan Maral, Bahar Balci and Artjom Gilz.

Credits: Directed by Vanessa Jopp, scripted by Jane Ainscough and Alex Kendall. A Netflix release.

Running time: 1:49


About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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2 Responses to Netflixable? A Cross-Cultural Rom-Com from “Faraway”

  1. Teri Dellaria says:

    I think this movie, Faraway, is fantastic, charming, adorable, funny, lovely, beautiful, sweet, sentimental, realistic in a dramatic way, and extremely memorable! I’ve watched it twice now in the last few days.
    The characters are completely lovable and the soundtrack is on point. I give this movie 5 stars!
    Whoever gave it 2 stars must not have been paying attention. My husband and I loved it!!!!

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