DIRECTOR: VOLKER SCHLONDROFF
COUNTRY: GERMANY 1992
CAST: Sam Sheppard, Julie Delpy, Barbara Sukowa, Traci Lind
MUSIC: Stanley Myers
FROM THE NOVEL: HomoFaber by Max Frisch
SUPER FEATURES: Story.
Some films just .... well, ... they just plod along.
And much like the European family structures which many wars have destroyed in this (and many other) century, this film shows a relationship which happened, and comes full circle.
A journalist travels consistently around the world. The girl he likes decides that they will not get married, even though she is pregnant. And they part ways. He is going to Caracas, and she, back to Europe. And along the way, the man meets a German, the airplane they get on manages to make an emergency landing in the middle of the Mexican desert, and not kill anyone. And when he gets to Caracas, there are a few places he has to see, and is drawn to. One of them is a small town where he finds an old friend dead. He has either hung himself or has been murdered. The locals say he killed himself of unhappiness. The man continues on to Europe, taking on a vacation. He can never commit to a relationship, as shown by his stopover in New York, where a girl friend has finally gotten a divorce, and is ready to marry him. He leaves. And on a boat in the Mediterranean, on the way
to France, he meets a young girl, to whom he eventually becomes attracted. She has a little of the carefree syndrome. is not a very happy person, has never known much about her father, and the mother is null and void about the subject. When he finds out the girl wants to hitch hike from Paris to Italy, then catch a boat, he decides to accompany her. They develop a mutual attraction, and eventually consume the relationship. She has come to love him. And he is very much struck by her beauty. When in Greece, he accidentally finds out that this girl is his daughter, which the mother had said she was aborting. But the girl has fallen and banged her head and eventually dies of a brain hemorrhage. The two parents have a chance to clear up their space, but they can't. The mother tells him that she refused his marriage invitation because of one word, in their conversation. And he leaves. Both alone. They can not love each other, much less anyone else any more. And their prize is gone. All the beauty is faded.
The film spends much of its time in the head of the journalist, played by Sam Sheppard, and his obsession with the fact that too many events he is drawn to inexplicably, somehow end up making much sense. The man who had hanged himself in Caracas was an old friend of his, and the one who had married the woman, and served as the step father, though the girl never knew he was not the real father. And the mother did not know he was dead
until the journalist tells her.
It is a slow moving film, dealing with a subject which is uncomfortable to many of us..... ever have the feeling you are drawn to something but you don't know why .... and ... it's a small world (a line which recurs several times) where we all meet. And of course, the fact that he has had an affair with his own daughter, is now another
wrench thrown in the works. Of all things, his fate would lead him into the arms of a daughter he didn't even know existed. And on top of it, the mother does not wish to let the daughter know the truth. And the suggestion is that the lack of truth and open-ness is what actually kills the innocent, not the poison of the viper which bit her. There is a severe lack of communication between the two, and the daughter ends up paying the price.... all too
common in many relationships that fall apart.
Slow moving film, which tries to get you involved with your thinking all the way through it. And it shocks you when it hits the mark.
As is customary to many German films, it has a bit of the expressionistic attitudes, and the film is slow and deliberate. At least, it allows us to see into the minds of the protagonists (and antagonists) with its available space. And it is filled in with some music, but not as much as Wim Wenders, or Werner Herzog, usually do, which could make for a bit of a boring evening. It picks up as the story gets more entwined. We need the early events to see where it will lead.
A THINKING FILM.
FOR LOVERS OF GERMAN FILM, rather than action dramas.
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