New Heights follows a business consultant in the city, Michi Wyss, who returns to his roots in the town as he attempts to resuscitate his family farm.
Michi Wyss (Julian Koechlin) is a successful business consultant in the city who’s far ahead of the town life that his family shares running a farm.
Unlike Michi, his brother Lorenz (Jérôme Humm) loves the farm and its animals but finds it a bit hard to pass the exam and become a qualified farmer.
Tragedy strikes the Wyss family when Michi’s father Kurt commits suicide due to the depressing conditions of the farm and the rising debt.
The tragedy brings Michi and his sister Sarah (Sophie Hutter), who runs a fitness studio, back to their family farm where their mother Katharina (Rachel Braunshweig) insists on managing the farm together, as a family.
Michi Wyss finds himself stuck between a rock and a hard place as he takes the responsibility of helping his brother revive the farm while bidding for a big promotion at his workplace.
Things get messy due to Sarah who’s more interested in selling the farm and dividing the money from the sale as she continues to suffer from financial problems.
Sarah continuously tries to jeopardise Michi’s plans as Michi tries to balance between two boats while sinking deeper into his drug problems.
New Heights’ character-driven drama is brilliantly supported by the acting performances put out by the large cast.
Julian Koechlin, as the struggling business consultant who must pick between his family and his career while suffering from drug problems, gives a remarkable performance with his sharp acting.
Rachel Braunshweig and Sophie Hutter play Katharina and Sarah respectively and deliver strong emotionally impactful performances.
Rachel Braunshweig’s notable performance is amplified by the various shades of her character that keeps the viewer interested in the character consistently. Sarah, on the other hand, manages to evoke empathy and hatred equally as the arc of her character grows.
Jérôme Humm plays a convincing farm boy and brings the charm of the town life out through his character. His performance does feel flat a couple of times but that’s a contributing factor of the writing that supports his character rather than the actor.
Benito Bause feels like a miss on most occasions even when his character is mostly likeable.
Roeland Wiesnekker, Nicola Perot, Roland Bonjour, and Lou Haltinner all bring their own sunshine to the towny vibe of the series’ setting.
The story depends on the setting of the town for its charm. The series portrays the struggles and life of the townsfolk beautifully.
Even while resting on the family drama for the most impactful moments, the Swiss series does not sacrifice the world around the family to focus on the story of the family.
There’s a blend of family struggle, personal turmoil, and professional hurdles, which combine to develop a compelling narrative without losing focus on any one aspect. Even beyond the family, the struggles of the agricultural life, drug abuse, suicide, and homosexuality are all subjects that are touched.
Another commendable aspect of the show is the dedication of the writers toward each character. Almost every character reflects the nuanced characterization behind it adding flavour to the world of the series. Even characters without any significant impact on the things at large strike a beautiful and interesting balance.
The visuals are praise-worthy too. The setting of the small town is well-utilised to capture memorable visuals adding flavour to the compelling drama ensuing in the foreground.
There are no surprises in the story department. The story is predictable, and the writers have chosen the easy way out of situations on more than one occasion.
Michi’s relationship with his father could have formed the most compelling and impactful thread of the story.
But, unfortunately, there’s so little that’s shown of the father that it becomes hard to feel impacted by it and beyond a point, it gets completely lost in the plethora of things going on with the story and the characters.
Joel forms another important character throughout the story, but he is abandoned multiple times by the writers giving the impression that his character is mostly there to drive Michi’s story forward.
Beyond the first impression, New Heights is not merely a family drama. It invests itself in the life of the other characters equally without compromising the main thread that binds the story together.
It manages to engage and move at the same time with the treatment provided to the story. There are few weaknesses and fewer reasons to skip this compelling Swiss drama series.