Like Boy, Peaceful Times is a narration of a particular childhood told from the point of view of one of the children, and like Boy it's a comedy with dark undertones.
The particular childhood is that of one of the two school-age daughters in a family who have escaped from East Germany to West Germany in the 1960's. Their father (Dieter) is thriving in his new environment, their Mother (Irene) isn't. She has difficulty making friends, pines for her old lifestyle and worries constantly about West German germs (I'm not kidding!), the Russian Army invading and what her husband is doing while he's out. It's as if she has agoraphobia and West Germany is outdoors.
The parents argue often, and the girls conclude that the family would be better off if their parents were divorced, so they conspire to make this happen. One of my favourite scenes was the girls tying their little brother to a chair and brow-beating him into colluding in their scheme.
The fundamental question of the film is whether Irene's neurosis is too much for her marriage to bear, though there's no question that her husband and children love her profoundly. A trip back to East Germany for Irene when her mother dies is a make-or-break experience.
Peaceful Times is a tremendously likeable film. The characters are engaging and the costumes and sets and attitudes conjure up the sixties perfectly. For a film that revolves around relationship struggles it is very good-humoured and easy to watch.
Anne's rating 4/5
Ian's rating 3/5