This is the story of Mike Tyson. No, not the boxer Mike Tyson. A different one… This Mike Tyson lives somewhere out in the Canadian wilderness, is constantly bullied and therefore decides to commit suicide. But as so often in life, everything turns out totally different as originally planned…
Aged 16, Mike has already had enough of his life (or rather that miserable existence that you call life). He doesn't have any friends in his sleepy Canadian hometown, his German father Frank (Victoria director Sebastian Schipper) has been absent for pretty much all of Mike's life and single mum Cynthia (Krista Bridges) is constantly moaning about everything.
So one day, Mike decides to end it all. He orders his own obituary from the local newspaper and shoots himself in the head. However, his story doesn't end here. To his disappointment he survives the suicide attempt…
Just shortly afterwards though, the doctors find a tumour in Mike's head. Mike can hardly believe his "luck" of getting a second chance to die and so covers up the illness in order to avoid life-saving treatment.
However, things don't go as planned. For once, his long lost father reappears again, trying to reconnect with Mike. Then, Mike meets Miranda (Bea Santos) – a girl about his age with slightly crazy ideas. They start to hang out and get on really well. Until fate strikes again. But not in a way you might expect…
The scriptwriter (Elena von Saucken) and director (Florian Cossen), both Germans, were inspired to set Coconut Hero in the sheer endless woods of North America when they travelled through Canada in 2010: "We thought it was much more exciting to shoot a film about depression and boredom in an area where you will get an overwhelming feeling of vast lands, the horizon and freedom!"
Filming took place far away from any kind of infrastructure – a true nightmare for any filmmaker. The hard work paid off though: In Coconut Hero, the setting of a small town somewhere in the vast wilderness of Canada emphasizes the fact that Mike, despite having the freedom of the wild on his doorstep, feels trapped in the little town where nothing ever happens and everything always stays the same. Supposedly…
German director Florian Cossen and the international cast, especially new talent Alex Ozerov, did a really good job with this indie tragic-comedy full of really dark humour. I was laughing at many of its jokes, even though there were times when I asked myself if I really should be laughing right now. Occasionally, I found the film a bit slow. But towards the end the pace caught up again with a – to me totally unexpected – turn of events.
I classified this film as German because the director / production team behind is in German. However, it is set in Canada and the original language is English. If you can, I would recommend to watch Coconut Hero in English as I heard that the dialogue is not so good in the dubbed German version.
My verdict: Somehow, through the dense forest of the darkest jokes you can ever imagine, the message of this coming-of-age flick is still that of enjoying life in the moment to its fullest potential!
*** 3 out of 5 stars