Published Apr 02, 2009German filmmaker Andreas Dresen is no stranger to the inner workings of human nature, and he proves it in his latest feature, Cloud 9. The film follows the day-to-day existence of Inge (Ursula Werner), a married woman in her mid-60s who enters into a passionate love affair with 76-year-old Karl (Horst Westphal).
The dialogue is sparse and the plot simple but in spite of the film's stark minimalism, Dresen demonstrates an impressive attention to detail in his intimate portrayal of the two lovers. This depiction is intensified once Inge's husband of 30 years, Werner (Horst Rehberg), is thrown into the mix upon learning of his wife's affair.
The overall ominous tone of the film is skilfully volatile and manages to shuffle from playful to sombre in a matter of seconds. This is reinforced by Ursula Werner's performance in the lead role, proving herself capable of mingling juvenile excitement with moments of futile despair. Visually speaking, the scenes are beautifully shot and charged with meaning. They provide a judgement on the lives and flaws of each of the characters, with whom it's impossible to sympathize.
Indeed, at times, Inge's naive selfishness seems ridiculous for a woman her age but then again, these age-based assumptions are precisely what Cloud 9 seeks to challenge.
The film is surprising because it reveals an on-screen domain usually reserved for Hollywood's stick-thin 20somethings: the realm of the bedroom. Presented with unabashed realism, the numerous (not to mention graphic) sex scenes of Cloud 9 succeed in achieving uniqueness but also run the risk of becoming somewhat overbearing. After all, how many drawn-out scenes of septuagenarian sex do we really need?
This said, the intricate relationships portrayed in the movie convey real honesty that's difficult to capture, and this is what renders Dresen's work so poignant. For a film of so few words, Cloud 9 succeeds in delivering a complex message, and a memorable one at that. (Mongrel Media)