Review: The Last Word (Das Letzte Wort)

Anke Engelke in The Last Word

The Last Word (Das Letzte Wort) is a German language dramedy series on Netflix. It’s about love and grief, about living and dying.

The Last Word (Das Letzte Wort) begins at the anniversary party of Karla (Anke Engelke) and Stefan (Johannes Zeiler). The night of celebration ends with a quiet moment between Karla and Stefan. Then bam! He dies.

A failing undertaker somehow beats the competition to the body. He is Andreas (Thorsten Merten). He’s holding on tooth and nail to the family funeral business so he can pass it on to his son Ronnie (Aaron Hilmer).

The Family

Juri Winkler in The Last Word

We meet all of Karla’s family for the funeral. Her teen age son Tonio (Juri Winkler) still lives at home. His last words to his dad were in an argument.

Nina Gummich in The Last Word

Judith (Nina Gummich) has been living far away from Berlin. She’s the oldest child and apparently the only responsible adult in the entire family. He ex boyfriend is still in Berlin and works as a clown.

Gudrun Ritter in The Last Word

Karla’s mother, Mina (Gudrun Ritter), keeps getting kicked out of care homes. After the funeral she ends up bunking in the living room with Judith where she hides her stash of marijuana and LSD.

The Grief

The plot of the 6 episodes is that Karla takes over the delivery of the eulogy for Stefan at his funeral. She then decides she wants to be a eulogist at other funerals and goes to work for Andreas doing it.

Every episode is a different death, a different chance for Karla to deliver a eulogy in her unique style.

Every episode is an exploration of how each member of the family deals with grief. Karla sees Stefan everywhere and talks to him. Tonio starts wetting the bed. Judith starts photographing dead people in the mortuary basement with Ronnie.

The series is about people struggling with grief. It isn’t just Karla’s family. It’s all the episodic families planning funerals. It’s Andreas grieving for his business and his marriage. Even so, it’s built around comedy moments, hilarious eulogies, and figuring out how to love each other better.

The Surprise (oops, spoiler alert)

Anke Engelke in The Last Word

Although Stefan was a dentist, there is no money. Karla discovers that he hadn’t been in the dentist’s office for two years. He’d been painting and sculpting in a shed she didn’t know about.

She spends a lot of time in the shed talking to her dead husband before her kids find out about it. She tries in some funny ways to get the dead guy to go away, but he doesn’t.

Grieving takes a long time. After six episodes, there’s still letting go to do. But a lot has changed in the funeral home and between the family members.

The Last Word (Das Letzte Wort) is good with the balancing act between comedy and drama, between living and dying.

Pola Beck and Aron Lehmann each directed 3 episodes.

There’s also an American movie called The Last Word with Shirley MacLaine that I’ve reviewed here.

Poster for The Last Word

The series is in German with subtitles. I think there’s a dubbed version. If you need help figuring out how to hear it dubbed, Netflix has tips.

How does this German series look to you? Are you going to give it a try?

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