German filmmaker Chris Miera’s first feature film Paths that he produced, directed, co-wr0te and was even the director of photography, is a sublimely lyrical understated drama that is such a refreshing look at the way a relationship can unfold despite the fact that the love is not lost, but just misplaced.
Economically shot in a remote small village on the rather forbidding Baltic Coast, it is the tale of thirty-something-year old furniture designer Andreas (Mike Hoffmann) who falls in love with Martin (Mathis Reinhardt) who runs the local Florist shop. Joining them is Andreas’ six year old son Max (Tom Böttcher) who they take in to live with them when his mother suddenly dies. They are a very un-showy couple opting for a simple life where the annual highlight is a vacation at the seaside in the heart of winter. They are however very much in love and show all the tenderness and warmth that comes when you believe that you have finally found your soul mate.
Miera shows how the couple’s lives progress over the next fifteen years in a neat series of flashbacks (and forwards) and how in particular they adjust to their changing fortunes. There is a time when Andreas’s workshop is struggling financially and this coincides with Martin being offered the chance of buying the Florist store as owner wants to sell up. Sadly as he doesn’t have access to any real money he has to pass up on it, and now unemployed struggles to find another job. When he does it involves a great deal of traveling with their relationship now being mainly conducted via Skype.
There are no major melodramas through the years but just the fact that that couple’s intimate moments get less and less as both men struggle with the reality that maybe they have actually grown apart. Their anguish is very real until it comes to the point that they know that one, or both, must make a decision of how this should play out without them losing sight of why they fell in love in the beginning.
Despite, or because of, its simplicity the story is a very compelling one of how these two very affable men cope with the intricacies of love. Theirs is a mature gay relationship that is so easy to relate too, yet rarely featured on the big screen, especially when the camera seems to hold back somewhat giving the actors enough space to show the remarkable chemistry that the two of them possessed.
Paths is a unique movie in not just its approach on how to tell these two men’s love story, but the way it was executed so that we end up feeling really proud that they made the right choice in the end.