Mental illness as depicted in the German road trip comedy/drama "Vincent Wants to Sea" is somewhere between a terrible affliction and a terribly funny affectation, depending on the manipulative needs of a hackneyed script.
First there's twentysomething Tourette sufferer Vincent (Florian David Fitz, also the screenwriter), institutionalized by his insensitive politician dad (Heino Ferch) after his caretaker mother dies. Escaping the hospital via stolen car on a quest to throw mom's ashes into the ocean, he's joined by germphobic OCD patient Alex (Johannes Allmeyer) and flirty yet brooding anorexic Marie (Karoline Herfurth). This outcast trio make for a cloying, unfunny pity party, however, as they zoom through the Italian alps, with Vincent's father and a caring psychologist (Katharina Müller-Elmau) in hot pursuit.
Director Ralf Huettner treats the whole thing like a bar graph of emotional points to hit: laugh at the uncontrollable swearing and cleanliness shtick here, marvel at the mountainous backdrops there, sniffle at the learned lessons in the third act and keep your toes tapping to the folk-pop soundtrack. What's missing is any of the real-life messiness that might have lifted this material from its creatively tic-ridden confines.
"Vincent Wants to Sea." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes. At the Nuart, West Los Angeles.