Fack Ju Göthe 3 is one of the wittiest, most encouraging and most thoughtful German movies of recent times

4/5 stars

Fack Ju Göthe 3, the highly acclaimed “Final Fuck”, easily takes its place among its famous predecessors that are still the best-known German movies around. The cast surrounding Elyas M’Barek and the movie’s archetypical problem students mirror recent problematic issues with which the German education system is faced and has to cope.

This time, Mr Müller (the teacher’s ) favourite anarchists are heading towards their final exams. But faced with revision and reading, Chantal (Jella Haase), Danger (Max von der Groeben), Zeynep (Gizem Emre) and the other students of Goethe comprehensive school are not really motivated to achieve great A-levels.

The only reason for this is the grouchy woman at the Careers Centre who comes up with jobs like cleaning woman or other dreary occupations for Mr Müller’s problem students. While Chantal and co. fill their teacher’s life with frustration, escalation and ingenious refusals to perform, school principal Gudrun Gerster (Katja Riemann), who wishes for new Bunsen burners, pursues the futile fight with the education ministry. Even though the new teacher Biggi Enzberger (Sandra Hüller), who seems to substitute the enthusiastic and caring Elisa Schnabelstedt (Karoline Herfurth), helps Zemi to carry out an anti-bullying seminar, the school again descends into chaos, not least because of the over-ambitious German education system.

Director Bora Dagtekin has once again produced a heartbreaking, quizzical comedy, based on great wit and contemporary jokes but also on a serious subtext. The movie’s ballsed-up, speedy and colourful images complement the sophisticated plot and constantly catapult us between laughter and tears. Intertwined plot elements and expedient backdrops at the most perfect times support the movie’s message and reflect an image of a typical German school.

Elyas M’Barek’s school saga is continued perfectly in this third part. In contrast to Christopher Schröder’s (ZEIT) claim that the film might have lost its cynical charm or Markus Tschiedert’s view (Berliner Zeitung) that it is the worst of all movies because of its conceptless film script and regrettable acting, I have to position myself on the totally contrary side. The film does not need the expected love story or now-cult expressions like “Chantal, cry quietly!” to continue the story about the 4 school leavers trying to find their place in life while struggling to juggle learning and partying. The movie offers plot elements that reveal a much more complex image of current schools. It offers scenes that stick in our minds, that might even remind us of our own school days and the fear we felt when confronted with the Dangers and Chantals of our youth. I do not know what many critics are referring to when they write that the movie embarrasses its audience. In my opinion, it does the total opposite.

Fack Ju Göthe 3 is a marvellous social criticism of the ramshackle education system in Germany. The story encourages middle-class audiences to rethink their decisions and look for a subtext in the sex jokes and exaggerated scenes.

Why should it be a lavish copy of previous instalments? As German society and the German education system do month by month, though in the wrong direction, the film has evolved. Relying on extra dedication from teachers who, after having hugged their students, are presumed to be in the charitable profession forever, is not a substitute for a reform of the education system. No! We have to look to politics! Dangers and Chantals deserve equality.

As an upcoming teacher, many of the anarchic scenes resonate with me, despite being exaggerated like the car explosions in Cobra 11. Students have changed. They don’t need teachers full of bile for whom chalk is the most essential thing on a workday. In my experience, students are crying out for open arms into which they can flee the recurring problems of their shattered homes. Instead of competitions between schools for new Bunsen burners, students need financial support, time and, most importantly, acceptance. Do you find yourself complaining about “louts” and taking objection to exaggerated eyeliner and joggers? Do they disturb your idyllic, picture-perfect, monotonous life? Yes? I’m talking to you.

To sum it up, Fack Ju Göthe 3, perfectly ties in with its predecessors. The movie starring Elyas M’Barek fully succeeds in venting social criticism concerning the German education system. Thanks to its remarkable humour, wit and empathy, everyone is captivated by the movie’s inventive plot as well as by its weighty subtext.

David Meyer

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