An absent-minded young man is struggling to get along with other kids in his class since he moved, and his teacher is not happy with how he does in school. His mother has had some severe problems of her own, and only wants the best for her son. She's struck hard by the teacher's report of his problems in school and tries her hardest to help him.
"Headlock" is a very real drama, featuring very real problems that I know for sure a lot of people have gone through. You've either lived through it yourself, or went to school with someone who has. And "Headlock" remains very real and down-to-earth, but with a few fantasy-esque touches that easily could have felt tacky or weird. They're implemented so naturally here that you almost NEED this unreal shots of fantasy to truly understand the mind of our lead character. To do this, and still give a vibe of realism, is the strength of this German arthouse drama.
The focus is on a young man with a wild imagination. This has made him a bit of a loner, and when he's the new kid at a school it's a real challenge for him to get friends. Most of the other kids make fun of him and think he's stupid. And some would say that he IS stupid, due to him having problems with assignments in school. But from our point of view he is just a bit too absent-minded, and can't focus on the things he needs to do. His mother has been a substance abuser and is trying her best to be a good mother. When she finds out about his problems doing homework and failing tests in school, she's extremely saddened. She blames herself for it, but does her best to get him to do well. But both of them almost seem destined to be living rough lives, and things are just not working out for them. No matter how hard she tries.
One thing I am very happy about here is that it wasn't a story about a kid being abused at home. Instead it was about a very caring mother who tries her best, but because of her own problems it doesn't always work. It's very easy to get into a movie like this, and they have made the characters very relatable. And the good people are likable as well. But some people might not be able to appreciate the small, experimental touch that highlights the wild imagination of the young man. They help us understand the movie, the kid and how the mother feels about her kid, in some weird way. And it's daring to do something as crazy as that, in such a realistic movie.
It's easy to like "Headlock" because it presents something real to us, and there can never be too many movies about real life problems. It's a pretty depressing movie, with some brief moments of light to help us from feeling too miserable. I really adored the relationship between son and mother here, and because of their problems there seemed to be a special connection between them. The look of the movie goes hand-in-hand with the depressing style, being slightly bleaked out and gritty. "Headlock" is also very short, at 63 minutes, and it makes it a movie I can definitely recommend. You might not get a shock of awe, but it's hard to deny that it's a good, depressing yet sweet movie. Without pointing fingers, I do think that it might be a movie more appreciated here in Europe than in US. But what do I know?