In July

If nothing else, this utterly charming — if ultimately inconsequential — road picture proves that there is such a thing as German romantic comedy. Thursday, July 7, somewhere in Bulgaria. A menacing-looking stranger (Mehmet Kurtulus) with a shaved head, snakeskin boots and a dead body in the trunk of his Mercedes Benz picks up a hitchhiking young...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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If nothing else, this utterly charming — if ultimately inconsequential — road picture proves that there is such a thing as German romantic comedy. Thursday, July 7, somewhere in Bulgaria. A menacing-looking stranger (Mehmet Kurtulus) with a shaved head, snakeskin boots and a dead body in the trunk of his Mercedes Benz picks up a hitchhiking young physics teacher named Daniel (Moritz Bleibtreu). Daniel is on his way to Istanbul to meet a girl he met in Hamburg and, as they tear down the highway together, Daniel tells the whole story. Flashback to one week earlier: On his way back from class, Daniel meets Juli (Christiane Paul), a funky but chic street vendor who's harboring a serious crush on him. Juli pesters Daniel into buying an old Mayan sun ring, telling him that if he wears it, he'll soon meet the one person destined to bring him true happiness; he'll know her by the sun symbol she'll also be wearing. Juli also invites him to a party, but just as she arrives in her sun-emblazoned dress, she spots Daniel leaving with Melek (Idil Üner), a Turkish beauty who just happens to be wearing a shirt with a sun insignia. Daliel and Melek share a romantic evening, but the next day she leaves for Istanbul because the following Friday she has a noontime date under the bridge that spans the Bospherous River. Taking Juli's prophecy to heart, Daniel borrows a friend's car and sets off after the woman he's now convinced is his one true love. Juli, meanwhile, leaves her own future to fate: She packs a bag, sticks out her thumb and tells herself she'll spend the summer going wherever the driver of the next car that stops is headed. That driver, of course, turns out to be Daniel. And so they're off on a cross-continental journey that owes more than a little to IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT and takes them through Bavaria, Hungary, Bulgaria and, eventually, Turkey. Bleibtreu, who's perhaps best known as Lola's boyfriend Manni in the 1998 hit RUN LOLA RUN, has a goofy charm that makes him an unusual but ideal choice for a romantic lead, while both Uner and the turquoise-eyed Paul are lovely: Daniel's predicament really is a can't-lose proposition. The race against the clock ensures that things keep moving at a swift, entertaining pace, and writer-director Fatih Akin includes occasional touches of fantasy that helps freshen up some of the more derivative scenes. (In German, with English subtitles.)

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Because it's never too early to plan Thursday night... two months from now.

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  • Released: 2000
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: If nothing else, this utterly charming — if ultimately inconsequential — road picture proves that there is such a thing as German romantic comedy. Thursday, July 7, somewhere in Bulgaria. A menacing-looking stranger (Mehmet Kurtulus) with a shave… (more)

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