Winter Sleepers

If you assumed, as I did, that this feature by Tom Tykwer (1997, 122 min.) followed his monstrously successful and seemingly less personal Run Lola Run, you’d be wrong. An odd, ambitious melodrama about two couples who share an Alpine villa in scenic Berchtesgaden, this is very much a rural film, and though it’s every bit as striking visually and self-consciously contrived in terms of storytelling as Lola, it’s a lot likelier to leave you querulous. A translator (Floriane Daniel) becomes involved with a ski instructor (Heino Ferch) and her housemate, a nurse (Marie-Lou Sellem) who becomes involved with a film projectionist (Ulrich Matthes); there’s also a local farmer (Josef Bierbichler) whose daughter is critically injured in a car accident in the film’s opening moments. None of these characters is standard issue, and Tykwer works overtime with his ‘Scope framing, elaborate color coding, and metaphysical thematics to make their interactions seem significant, and at times erotic as well. I can’t yet decide whether the film works or not, but it certainly held me for its full two hours. (JR)

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