A surprisingly funny and meaningful classic tale of ‘will they? won’t they?’ that will satisfy the hearts of the hopelessly romantic but may not hit the mark for those looking for something original and fresh.
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Netflix has bestowed upon us a charismatic romantic-comedy that offers audiences a reasonably pleasant watch with a typical ‘they love each other, they just don’t know it’ storyline. Although Isi & Ossi is hardly original, the overall script lends itself to the age-old tropes of dramatic irony and predictability, a combination that augurs well for their inevitable final pairing. With characters Isi and Ossi playing the part of polar opposites, Netflix’s newest addition further sells the narrative of ‘opposites attract’ promising a film that is overflowing with conflicts and struggles that aim to highlight the pair’s fundamental differences. Isi & Ossi uses a classic and foolproof recipe that is sure to entertain the soft at heart but may not satisfy audiences looking for something new and unfamiliar.
Isi and Ossi are from two different worlds, Isi from Heidelberg (aka the nice part of town), daughter to a billionaire; Isi knows nothing of the hardships of life. On the other hand, Ossi lives in the poverty-stricken working-class town of Mannheim, getting by with any means necessary Ossi works to keep himself and his Mom from falling further into debt. Isi is not academically smart, much to the dismay of her overbearing mother, but this unfortunate trait is not a problem in the world of money as Isi’s mother hires a lawyer to fix her grades ensuring access to the top colleges. Unfortunately, Isi has no interest in such paths and wants nothing more than to train to be a chef, an occupation deemed unfit and improper, thus leading to Isi being cut off from her inheritance. On the other side of town Ossi is training to become a professional boxer, only to fall short of his dreams when his sponsor pulls out due to Ossi appearing uncommitted (only because he has to cut training short to help his mother stay afloat).
Isi, dissatisfied with the plan her mother has orchestrated for her, leaves home, takes a job at a fast-food restaurant and plans to revolt by dating someone from a lower-income background. Upon witnessing Ossi in a very brief altercation Isi decides that he is perfectly bad boy enough to aggravate her parents, she asks him out hoping to blackmail them into releasing her inheritance. Ossi, upon discovering Isi’s social media, adorned with photos of helicopters and exotic vacations, decides to pursue Isi back believing she can fund his boxing dream and wipe away his family debt. As expected the two butt heads on more than one occasion but their relationship blossoms and evolves to being something so much more than the material rewards they had hoped from each other.
Isi & Ossi is inherently foreseeable, with a dramatization of star-crossed lovers that seem to have the world against them, yet ultimately they overcome their challenges to be together. Unfortunately, this can lead to a stagnant storyline that meanders on as the audience wait for the inevitable to happen. Still, Isi and Ossi is revived through moments of genuine compassion and uplifting defiance of what society regards as normal behavior for both the upper and working class. Ossi is hopelessly optimistic, not hindered in any way by expectations or convention that could render him undesirable in the eyes of the world. Isi, on the other hand, is ‘trapped’ in a way that is reserved only for the privileged, an entrapment that makes her miserable and despairing in the world of abundance. Still, it would be difficult not to pity Isi as she is blocked at every opportunity to live her own life, a life she wants to carve out for herself.
Isi is played by Lisa Vicari, best known for her role in Netflix’s outstanding series Dark. Vicari is nothing short of wonderful as she takes on a character that must confront her struggles from the view of a rose-tinted pedestal. Ossi is played by talented actor Dennis Mojen. Mojen is exquisite and offers a sweet passion that cascades youthful enthusiasm and heartfelt integrity. Vicari and Mojen work harmoniously as their infectious chemistry inspires audiences and captivates a unique sense of anticipation for their final reunion. Furthermore, the entire cast overflow with flair and finesse, secondary characters make for magical moments of authenticity and comedy to lighten the mood and ground the narrative.
Overall Isi & Ossi is wholesome and amusing, the script is surprisingly funny and offers audiences moments of pure youthful indulgence. Both Isi and Ossi have to grow up, but there is nothing in the world that could stop them from doing it together, no matter their circumstances. As previously stated the movie isn’t all that original but the team behind Isi & Ossi function well to deliver an age-old story with a fresh adolescent charm. Isi & Ossi is for the young at heart and the hopeless romantics, a story for those who love a Romeo and Juliet narrative and dream of a far more positive outcome.
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Maggie has been a film critic for Ready Steady Cut since 2018. Maggie gained a BSc in Film Production and Technology leading to her most notable credit for the production designer for a short film screened as part of the London Film Festival line up.