This is a TV movie that my husband randomly turned it to about 40 minutes after it started airing. Therefore, I missed the part when Maria, an older, widowed woman living in an apartment in a "bad neighborhood" is disturbed by her "Roma" neighbors. I missed the neighbors having troubles that lead to them (or at least the younger ones) going to Maria's apartment and also how she began giving the teenaged neighbor Baro music lessons. However, I was able to watch as Baro grew under Maria's instructions and Maria develop a lot more purpose in her once-lonely life (one of the first scenes I saw was her going to a store to buy baking ingredients and happily sharing with the clerk that she was going to bake. The woman who plays Maria, Christiane Hoebiger is amazing in her role, so I was immediately hooked).
Bero seems to genuinely like Maria, however, he is still a teenager. His siblings and their "friends" continuously pressure Bero until he reluctantly agrees to help break into Maria's apartment, where she has many valuable items. Bero first comes alone to Maria to warn her, but the other kids break in and freakishly injure Maria for "being in the way." The end up stealing a lot of her things and also damaging a lot of other items. That is devastating enough for Maria, but worse is Bero's apparent betrayal. Naturally, she tries to sever all ties with Bero, but he does not give up so easily.
What could have been a boring or depressing movie is actually a really touching tale of an unconventional friendship. Maria and Bero play very well off of each other and Sammy Abdel Fattah, who plays Bero, manages to make Bero, a character who could have been loathsome, sympathetic. Christiane Hoerbiger is fantastic in her role: probably the best performance I have seen by a German actress and in a "little" TV movie, of all things. Because it is a TV movie, it is not likely to be easily available to Americans, or be available with subtitles. In these situations it is sometimes more likely for Americans to remake their own version. Hoerbiger very much reminded me of Ellen Burstyn and she would be perfect in the role if there ever was an English version. Or I would be happy to see Christiane Hoerbiger and Ellen Burstyn in a movie together. I'd never heard of Christiane Hoerbiger before seeing this, but if her other performances are as good, she deserves international success.
8 1/2 out of 10 stars and that is only because I did not see the entire film.