Love in the time of arthritis
THERE WAS every danger that this well-acted, wryly amusing German film could have gone badly wrong. Detailing a love affair between a woman in her mid-60s and a man 10 years her senior – and featuring a handful of fairly explicit sex scenes – the project positively invites the viewer to squirm with unease. But it is to the director’s credit that, as events progress, the characters’ age ceases to be an issue and their clearly drawn personalities take over. There is tragedy and awkwardness here, but Cloud 9 never feels like a chore.
Andreas Dresen, an experienced director in many genres, offers us a fairly simple story. An apparently contentedly married older woman, who makes ends meet by sewing and mending, falls into the arms
of one of her clients. Their relationship begins as a sexual frolic, but, as time passes, she begins to fall in love.
Ignoring her daughter’s advice to keep the affair quiet, she breaks the news to her eccentric husband and prepares for a major change in circumstances.
All three main actors attack their roles with such conviction that the film’s attempt to address An Important Issue never seems hectoring or schematic. Utilising slightly blurry digital video to good effect, Dresen draws striking contrasts between the blandness of a modern bedroom and the verdant energy of a field full of flowers.
Cloud 9 is, also, occasionally quite funny. Indeed, the picture’s portrait of the protagonist’s odd husband – he reads the paper in the nude and listens to LP records of commuter trains – features so many mildly negative German stereotypes that it would not seem out of place in this week’s Brüno.