Playful but ultimately pointless. German director Tom Tykwer's handsome romantic thriller once again plays on his pet themes fate, coincidence and a proverbial figure in the carpet that may or may not be there with a persistence that's beginning to smack of obsession... or perhaps a talented director spinning his wheels. A mysterious letter sent from a remote, clifftop cottage triggers a chain of events that include a freak accident, a disastrous bank robbery and an unlikely romance between two emotionally bruised strangers. The letter is addressed to Sissi (Franka Potente), a lonely psychiatric nurse who's lived her entire life behind the walls of the Birkenhof Clinic; it was sent by an old friend whose mother has just died. The writer has a favor to ask: The next time she's in town, could Sissi stop by the bank and see about her inheritance? Meanwhile, in another part of the city, Bodo (Benno Fürmann), a temperamental ex-soldier traumatized by his wife's accidental death in a gas station explosion, and his brother Walter (Joachim Król) are planning a daring robbery. Inevitably, the paths of Bodo and Sissi cross. One afternoon, while crossing a busy street, Sissi is struck down by a skidding truck. Bodo, on the run from an angry gas station attendant, slips under the stopped truck to hide and finds Sissi, pinned to the ground and gasping her last breaths. Bodo saves her life, then disappears; Sissi, having had a dying vision of eternal happiness, vows to find her savior. Her angel of mercy, however, doesn't want to be found. Tykwer first grabbed the international film world's attention with his breathlessly kinetic third feature, RUN LOLA RUN (1998). But this follow-up has more in common with LOLA's predecessor, WINTER SLEEPERS (1997), a goosebump-inducing mystery that also flirts with the possibility of grand, cosmic patterns. But aside from the rich mise en scene scenes set at the clinic are particularly atmospheric careful plotting, and a few memorable moments (including a surprisingly tender emergency tracheotomy), this cluttered film holds few real frissons. Things fall into place only because Tykwer put them there in the first place, with a deliberation that feels forced. His unpredictability has become predictable, and the only thing genuinely uncanny here is the unsettling and unintentional sense of déjà vu.
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- Released: 2000
- Rating: R
- Review: Playful but ultimately pointless. German director Tom Tykwer's handsome romantic thriller once again plays on his pet themes fate, coincidence and a proverbial figure in the carpet that may or may not be there with a persistence that's beginn… (more)