When Will It Be Again Like It Never Was Before

by Sonja Heiss

A charming, funny and deeply moving film about growing up in a very special family. Based on an internationally bestselling novel.

Growing up on the grounds of one of Germany's largest psychiatric hospitals is somehow - different. For Joachim, the director's youngest son, the patients are like family. They are also much nicer to him than his two older brothers, who drive him into fits of rage. His mother, painting watercolors, longs for Italian summer nights instead of constant German rain, while his father secretly, but not discreetly enough, goes his own way. But while Joachim slowly grows up, his world, not only through the loss of his first love, gets more and more cracks...

Genre / Language / Length
Comedy / German / 116 minutes
Original title
Wann wird es endlich wieder so, wie es nie war
directed by
screenplay by
Sonja HeissLars HubrichBased on a Novel by Joachim Meyerhoff
produced by
Komplizen Film and Warner Bros. Filmproductions Germany in co-production with Frakas Productions
  • Camille Loup Moltzen (SPENCER)
  • Casper von Bülow (PRESSURE)
  • Pola Geiger (WE MIGHT AS WELL BE DEAD)

Press Quotes

“A darkly humorous, knowing film…Wes Anderson-esque ... An expansive yet intimate family portrait that effectively mines familiar domestic idiosyncrasies and intrigues.... Excellent cast.”
Nikki Baughan, Screen International

„A big and complex film bearing the right message, resolutely refusing to underestimate the capacities of young audiences...a remarkable opener for this year's Berlinale Generation 14plus section. Based on the autobiographical bestseller by Joachim Meyerhoff, and produced by high-profile German company Komplizen Film and the local branch of Warner Bros, it... could do some serious business in German-speaking territories and, given the proper attention, internationally as well...The childhood part ends… hilariously in an unexpectedly dark tone. This is one of the film's strongest suits: it does not pamper young audiences to “protect” them; rather, it aims to show life in all its complexity and openly discards the false dichotomy of “normal” and “not normal”....played with a full heart by Arsseni Bultmann...The technical credits are excellent all around, and the acting, especially Striesow's and Tonke's, makes these complexities convincing and natural… Atmospherically, it moves in big amplitudes, but the baseline of the mood is rather high, supported by several famous pop songs, including The The's “This Is the Day” and T-Rex's “Cosmic Dancer”, which emotionally bookend the film"
Vladan Petkovic, Cineuropa

„A truly exceptional achievement, and further proof that Heiss is amongst our most essential and exciting contemporary artistic voices...a wonderful, intricately woven tapestry of the life of a young man… existential odyssey, delivered in the form of a bitingly funny satire…brilliantly portrayed...a beautiful and provocative film about growing up and finding yourself, which evokes a remarkable sense of nostalgia. Through all the madness and eccentricity incited throughout the film, there is a clear thesis statement – life is filled with joys and sorrows, all of which are inevitable. However, our responsibility is to find the balance between the moments of celebration and lamentation…. This film captures these feelings superbly – it is both melancholic and deeply funny, and the balance of humour and tenderness makes it a compelling film, one that finds humour in every situation, but is also not afraid to have serious conversations. Eccentric without being excessive, and beautifully poetic in how it approaches its material.“
Matthew Joseph Jenner, Icsfilm.org

“beautifully acted and directed, proving to be incredibly funny and deeply moving. The choice… to opt for a cast composed of professional actors and non-professional actors, with and without psychiatric disorders, creates an authenticity that judiciously supports the story by highlighting it. …the main character of Joachim is played by three different actors, all three excellent...likely to bring a new prize to Sonja Heiss!”
Firouz E. Pillet, J-MAG.ch

“The absurdity of the interactions proves responsible for a discreet and respectful humor. The spectator is never invited to laugh at the madmen, nor at their difference from “normality”. On the contrary, there is evident empathy and affection for these characters, so that only the pillars of traditional society will be ridiculed: monogamy, fidelity, the expectation of virginity, respect for mayors and governors...When Will It Be Again Like It Never Was Before has excellent performances, capable of navigating with simplicity through the scenario of madness without turning it into a spectacle or exoticism for our curious eyes. The excellent Devid Striesow maintains countless ambiguities in his gaze, between the rigidity of his conduct and the fragility of his emotions...The experience ends without telling the spectator what to feel or what to think… Heiss invites the viewer to follow that reality closely, like an additional member of the family or of the psychiatric hospital, watching them grow, age, change. We are encouraged to feel the same sense of affection for them that the characters feel for each other. There is much to extract from this journey, but the work will be up to the spectator, based on a rich feast of stimuli and situations — as only happens in beautiful films"
Bruno Carmelo, Meioamargo.com

„Super funny and deeply sad…First highlight of the Berlinale...A film that leaps over all the hurdles of expectation as confidently as it does gleefully...As director, Sonja Heiss leads an ensemble of professionals, young actors, and laymen to a rousing performance. This film knows quiet, depressed tones, it bubbles with silly fun, and it conveys deep pain...
Cornelia Geißler, Berliner Zeitung

“A superbly cast…Lovingly shot. Authentic overall… an entertaining pleasure”
DPA, Sueddeutsche Zeitung

“There are novels for which a screen adaptation seems only barely feasible. But Sonja Heiss has succeeded...The mother is interpreted by the outstanding Laura Tonke, who virtually embodies her role… The rest of the cast, including Josse Camille Loup Moltzen as a boy, Arsseni Bultmann as a teenager and Merlin Rose as an adult, are strikingly authentic in their respective parts...Director Heiss… refrains from over-explaining situations and developments. Thus, as if from small mosaic stones, a straightforward narrative full of scurrilities and laconic, North German humor emerges, which at the same time deals with the rigors of life and its absurdities. Like Meyerhoff in his memoirs, “When will it be again like it never was” combines opposites seemingly effortlessly, maintaining a fine balance between family chronicle, coming-of-age story and humorous anecdotes...The good news is that… there would be enough material left for a sequel.”
PULS 24.at

“the very next German highlight at the Berlinale...a film of contrasts, sky-high jubilant, deathly sad, crazy funny and shockingly sad, giftedly upbeat and deeply emphatic - a tragicomedy that you like immediately because it looks so curiously and affectionately at its characters... It sounds like a great family chronicle, "Buddenbrooks" or "Giant" perhaps, but it isn't. Instead, it stays close to the main character's world of experience, putting life together from observations, snapshots, snapshots, anecdotes, like leafing through a family album, which doesn't exclude the weird, embarrassing and ultimately tragic moments…Everyday life here is the sum of lovingly observed details...In a curious way, the film is very close to "The Fabelmans," another coming-of-age story in which the young protagonist is the unwitting chronicler of the failure of his parents' marriage. Sonja Heiss' film, however, is more idiosyncratic, more quirky in its stride through time, letting the somewhat dreary seventies explode into the synth pop sound of the early eighties… Fateful, formative Big Moments are so touching because the little observations on the sidelines beforehand made you laugh so hard...If it takes Sonja Heiss eight years between two works… to create films that then pick you up like this, then you resign yourself to this circumstance. But maybe it will be quicker next time, please.”
Thomas Schultze, Blickpunkt:Film

Selected Festivals & Awards

73rd Berlin International Film Festival
63rd ZLIN - International Film Festival for Children and Youth
Busan International Kids and Youth Film Festival (BIKY)
15th Sarajevo Youth Film Festival