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Cloud 9

~Cannes Film Festival Winner~

Age offers no refuge from the consequences of fooling around and falling in love. Old people fall just as fast and just as hard as youngsters do, opening the gates to a flood of spiritual turmoil when they're least equipped to deal with it. It's not a subject Hollywood would ever deal with honestly. Wrinkled hands exploring sagging naked bodies is anti-porn; a turnoff in an age when the buff and the beautiful rule. It's fringe material, art-house and festival fare, yet German director Andreas Dresen – best known for his stark dramas about working-class struggles – succeeds, with Cloud 9 in constructing a credible and urgent romance from a sexual affair initiated by Inge (Ursula Werner). She's a dumpy, pudding-faced, 60-something seamstress who takes a shine to one of her customers, the gentle septuagenarian charmer, Karl (Horst Westphal). Trouble is, Inge's marriage of 30 years to Werner (Horst Rehberg), a self-satisfied retired railway worker who gets his jollies listening to recordings of old steam engines and spending his afternoons riding trains through the summertime countryside, seems solid and settled. They dote on their grandchildren and enjoy a warm and close relationship with their daughter, Petra (Steffi Kühnert). Comfy and understandably complacent, Werner is still an affectionate and caring lover, and when Inge's sexual adventures with Karl morph into love and she is compelled to own up, he is devastated and withdraws into uncomprehending emotional stasis. The movie's strength comes from Werner's finely detailed portrait of Inge, who seems more astonished than anyone else by the power of the emotions and sexual need that have been suppressed for the better part of her life. She tolerates no illusions – she confronts her old body regularly in the mirror – but is driven on, almost in desperation, to the fulfilment of a romantic fantasy she knows is the proper realm of giddy young girls, knowing it's an urge she can't control and is naively unmindful of its repercussions. To their credit, Dresen and his troupe don't wallow in the morality of the affair or make judgments from which we might infer cautionary advice. Stuff happens to people, old and young. Sometimes it's beautiful, sometimes banal; sometimes it lasts forever; sometimes it ends badly. When it comes to matters of the heart, we are never old or ugly, just helpless, and Cloud 9 lays that simple reality on the line. Brave stuff. --Greg Quill, Toronto Star

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Directed by: 
Andreas Dresen
Running Time: 
German with English subtitles
Ursula Werner, Horst Rehberg, Horst Westphal, Steffi Kühnert
Screenplay by: 
Andreas Dresen, Jörg Hauschild

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