CANNES 2011 - WINNER - A CERTAIN REGARD PRIZE
Forty-year-old healthy Frank has been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and suddenly condemned to only a few months to live. It's a shock to a life seemingly on track with a steady job and a new house in the suburbs. But together Frank and his family push through with their daily life of work and school. Frank tries to cope with the difficulty of accepting the inevitable: increasing symptoms of the illness and medical treatment. He uses his iPhone as a kind of emotional diary. The decision to home care Frank puts an immense strain on loving Simone and ends up distancing the family members as much as it keeps them together... A story about death that celebrates life from the director of CLOUD 9, WHISKY WITH VODKA and GRILL POINT.
An acute and raw sense of honesty... Pic's standouts are the sharp dialogue, all of it improvised, and ace cast, a mix of thesps and non-pros... "Stopped on Track" doesn't have a screenplay credit; the director and regular collaborator Cooky Ziesche came up with an outline of the characters and scenes that were then developed on set with the actors. The process recalls that of Mike Leigh, and the payoff is similar, with dialogue that sounds entirely natural and actors totally at ease with their lines.... The director's simple focus on the actors and what they say and do delivers impressive results. One of the strongest sequences starts with Frank and Simone simply kissing each other, and expresses far better than any type of flashback everything they used to have and will lose.... Milan Peschel ("Sometime in August") is impressive in the attention-grabbing role, but Steffi Kuehnert, from Dresen's "Grill Point," is his equal as a woman who forces herself to cope with an impossible situation. Non-pro child actors are both well cast, with Mika Nilson Seidel especially expressive in a wordless scene in which he's caressed by his bedridden father. Talisa Lilly Lemke's last line is a doozy.
— Boyd Van Hoeij, VARIETY
An emotionally intense, dramatically compelling account of a dying man’s last months... Unrelentingly heartbreaking but also life-affirming... Dresen’s working methods on Stopped On Track adhere closely to the principles of Mike Leigh with all of the dialogue improvised by the actors, genuine members of the medical profession woven into the story and situations culled from a truthful distillation of life rather than the imagination of a screenwriter... Milan Peschel is an effective, everyman presence as the dying Frank whilst Steffi Kuhnert rises to the more emotionally demanding role of the wife coping with everything that life and death throws in her way.
— Allan Hunter, SCREEN INTERNATIONAL
Intimate and affecting... Watching it reminded me of how often cinema shows people being killed, but how infrequently it shows people dying outside of military or violent contexts... It’s not shocking to watch his decline – many of us have witnessed loved ones similarly stricken; rather, it’s saddening. Fascinating too. For this is a film about adaptation and coping. It’s a record of a journey as difficult as any polar expedition... Stopped On Track is shot with natural lighting and employ many close ups of the tense, expressive faces of its excellent cast who completely improvise its dialogue. That may account for its many unexpected moments, such as conversations about whether The Cure or Nirvana would be good soundtracks for a funeral, or Mika asking his father if he can have his i-Pod after he dies... There is a fleeting scene that invokes the spectre of ghosts towards the end. Somehow, in Dresen’s gentle, powerful hands, that doesn’t seem wholly absurd. Just as ghosts signal the refusal of the past to let go its grip on the present, this is a film that will likely return to haunt and perhaps even to succour its audiences.
— Sukhdev Sandhu, THE TELEGRAPH (UK)