2011, ARD Degeto Film/Studio Hamburg Filmproduktion

Anno Saul
Heike Streich
Sabine Timmermann
Marcus Hertneck
Martin Pristl
Wedigo von Schultzendorff
Tobias Haas

Tanja Wedhorn (Katherina Reiff)
Tim Bergmann (Sebastian/Peter)
Jan-Gregor Kremp (Thies Quedens)
Eva Kryll (Marianne Reiff)
Lotte Flack (Nele Reiff)

This German TV-movie is a pretty fun mix of small town life with a caper revolving a mysterious newcomer in town.

Single mother Katherina Reiff has had enough of her boyfriend/boss Clemens cheating on her. With the support of her teenage daughter Nele, Katherina finally has the confidence to leave Clemens for good. Nele suggests going back to their family’s guesthouse on an island off the mainland. At first, Marianne is not too thrilled about the idea, but eventually warms up when she goes as far as offer Katherina a chance to serve as a housesitter for one of the local residents.

En route to the island, Katherina and Nele run into a mysterious stranger named Peter. Peter is being followed by two men and he comes up with the idea of coming to the island with Katherina and Nele. Both the mother and daughter feel something is off with Peter and after some evidence, Peter reveals that he worked as a roulette croupier at a casino and has taken a case full of chips because he witnessed his bosses laundering money by purposely losing money so it goes back to the casino anyway. As Katherina offers to help Peter evade the mafia, it causes a strain between herself and not only Nele, but the one authority she can actually trust on the island: bumbling police officer Thies, who suggests Katherina give Peter up.

The first of a series of TV-films in Germany (the English title is apparently Reef for the Island: A New Beginning), this film blends the “return to home” genre of drama with a very interesting caper like film revolving around the mysterious newcomer to town. Where the meshing of genres either work smoothly or don’t mesh well, this one is a smoothed out blend of the genres.

Tanja Wedhorn drives the film as the single mother Katherina, who goes from someone who doesn’t have much self-esteem to someone whose true nature is slowly revealed once she returns to her mother’s island home. We learn that Katherina may have lacked confidence at first, but once she finds herself involved in the caper aspect of the film, she is revealed to have worked for police due to her powers of deduction, photographic memory, and of course, women’s intuition. Lotte Flack’s Nele is the rebellious teenager who tends to help her mother face reality as she suspects that her mother may have an interest with the newcomer Peter, played by Tim Bergmann. In this case, the romantic portion isn’t really played out as much as one would think.

The comic relief comes in the form of bumbling local police officer Thies, played by Jan-Gregor Kremp of The Musketeer. Thies is not just bumbling, but looks to have been somewhat of a mentor to Katherina. However, the comedy comes with a trademark line he uses in the film, “Ay ay ay” and in one very funny scene, a surprise birthday party for the cop leads to an attempt for him to tell Katherina to give Peter up to the authorities only for him to pass out after being drunk mid-sentence. Kremp and Eva Kryll would join Wedhorn for the entire series of films while Flack would be replaced by Joanna Ferkic for two installments only to return for the final installment, Katharina und der große Schatz, in late 2015.

Reiff für die Insel: Neubeginn is a fun dramedy that smoothly meshes the small town life with a bumbling caper comedy of sorts thanks to the performances of Tanja Wedhorn and Jan-Gregor Kremp, the two major driving forces of the film.