Directed by Andreas Dresen
Cloud 9 begins like a German-language, sexed-up Brief Encounter, with 60-plus seamstress Inge (Ursula Werner) straying from her 30-year marriage to have an affair with a 76-year-old man whose pants she hemmed. The lust between these two aged souls turns very swiftly — and graphically — into lovemaking, all before the title credit. The first half hour of the film contains very little dialogue, leaving the viewer to infer motivation through body language and close-ups on contemplative faces. As the film develops, Inge's motivation slowly comes into focus.
But it's to the film's credit that there are no labored revelations or dark secrets about her relationship with her husband — instead the film embraces the simultaneously simple and complex desires of a housewife feeling inconsequential. Inge’s existing marriage to Werner (Horst Rehberg) isn't entirely soulless. Ok, so he's overly concerned with following the news and occasionally ashes in the pretzel dish; but they display a chummy companionship and there's still enough attraction for the occasional romp in the bedroom. But it's not quite enough for Inge.
In the director's notes, 45-year-old filmmaker Andreas Dresen states that he wanted the film to treat the characters as if they were young. Their behavior is as ferocious as pubescent teens but their problems are distinctly of their age. Unlike the similarly themed but facile Last Chance Harvey, the consequences and repercussions of the characters’ relationship are indicative of their situation. It's possible to read the final third as scolding Inge for her actions, but it's just as easy to view it as a realist's interpretation of how the aftermath of infidelity at that age would unfold.
The film's strengths lie in the natural performances and Dresden's minimalist direction. The locations feel lived-in and the performers do so much with just their eyes. But what will inevitably leave the longest lasting impression on viewers is the frankness of the love scenes which are energetic, starkly shot and — believe it or not — sexy.
Opens August 14