Meteorologist Marla Goldschmitt is just about to go on air in a Frankfurt TV studio when she discovers that her husband Janosch is kissing another woman in the wings. But instead of being able to work it out with him, life immediately holds an even bigger challenge for her: Her mother Rosie has been in a traffic accident.
At the hospital, Marla has to learn that Rosie has a brain tumor, will die shortly and apparently doesn’t know about her diagnosis yet. Before the doctors can enlighten Rosie, she leaves the hospital on her own responsibility to set off alone in her dented van on a trip to the Baltic Sea. Marla can’t dissuade Rosie from driving to the family’s old vacation spot, and ends up unceremoniously jumping in the car with her mother. She wants to find the right moment to tell Rosie the truth.
With her unusual spontaneity, Marla surprises not only her husband, her daughter Issi and her son Niko, but above all Rosie. At first, Rosie is not very enthusiastic about the close supervision of her daughter: the down-to-earth fruit seller has a very distant relationship with Marla. Together, the mismatched mother-daughter team embarks on an emotional, tragicomic road trip into the past, during which Marla also meets her childhood sweetheart Ole Hansen again.
Photos: Georges Pauly / ZDF
“In times of the pandemic, I was made aware of how important it is to look out for each other” – Interview with Birte Hanusrichter
What is “Katie Fforde: You Only Live Once” about?
Mother Rosie has a terminal illness and is going to die. She knows it, and her daughter Marla knows it – but they don’t know that the other knows it, because they don’t get along very well. With this secret, they go on an involuntary road trip together, get to know each other anew, and find the truth together. The film shows that we are better advised to openly address and clarify conflicts or secrets that we carry around with us. Otherwise they can cost us valuable years of life. Everyone knows this themselves – of course it’s hard. And of course it’s also very hard for Marla and her mother Rosie, but it has to be done in order to get back together and solve the problems.
What kind of relationship does Marla have with her mother?
It’s a very difficult mother-daughter relationship. The two of them have a lot of conflicts. Rosie deals with her serious illness in a very idiosyncratic way and doesn’t let anyone tell her what to do – not even her daughter. Rosie may be a mess herself, but she has raised her daughter to be very independent. Marla has also become a very successful woman with a job and two children. With her Orga apps, she always has everything perfectly under control – except her panic attacks.
What does Marla learn on her journey with her mother?
When she is forced to go on the trip with her mother, she realizes for the first time that Rosie loves her very much. The way she deals with this and the way she is able to express it is perhaps different than Marla would like. But we just can’t choose that. As she begins to understand this, something inside her loosens up – a very important moment in the film.
What was it like to shoot under strict hygiene rules in times of pandemic?
The film was made in the summer in the middle of the Corona season under the highest safety precautions. The focus for all of us at the moment is on questions like: “Are my loved ones taking care of themselves? Can I do anything to help them be okay?” We did the same on set, and ultimately that’s what the film is about in terms of content, because Marla is worried about her mother all the time.
In times of the pandemic, I was particularly reminded – as we all were – how important it is to take care of your loved ones and look out for each other. We all do that with friends and family, and that’s what this film is about.
“I love being cast in ways no one expects” – Interview with Saskia Vester.
Who is Rosie in “Katie Fforde: You Only Live Once”?
Rosie doesn’t have long to live and wants to go to the Baltic Sea to see the love of her life again. Marla thinks her mother doesn’t know about her serious illness, wants to persuade her to have an operation and jumps into the car with her. Rosie, on the other hand, wants to hide her illness from her daughter and is now forced to make this trip with her daughter. The two meet anew once again. It sounds dramatic, but it’s actually an incredibly life-affirming film.
How are mother Rosie and daughter Marla different?
Rosie is a pretty unconventional woman who has made her way in life. Simple, but with a big heart. Because of her illness, she also smokes cannabis on prescription without any problems. The daughter is structured, clear, very controlled – so pretty much the opposite of her mother. I love to be cast in a way that no one expects: So, for example, as a lesbian detective in the series “Kriminaldauerdienst.” But in this case I have to say that the character of Mother Rosie is very close to mine.
Rosie has only a short time to live, but escapes from medical treatment.
She has decided against further treatment and just wants to feel life in her last days. She wants to see the sea again and go to the Baltic Sea. There she spent wonderful summers with her secret great love. Her daughter Marla didn’t know about this secret until now and spies on her mother – thereby bursting her life’s lie. Finally, after all these years, there is an open discussion. I’m already getting goosebumps again, a very moving moment – simply beautiful. The film celebrates the courage to live.
Have you filmed on the Baltic Sea before?
Yes, in Heiligendamm and on Usedom, but I didn’t know Hohwacht, the whole of Schleswig-Holstein, before. I thought it was beautiful there and have to say it’s not inferior to America in terms of scenic motifs.