Combustible Celluloid
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With: Ursula Werner, Horst Rehberg, Horst Westphal, Steffi Kühnert
Written by: Andreas Dresen, Jörg Hauschild, Laila Stieler, Cooky Ziesche
Directed by: Andreas Dresen
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Language: German, with English subtitles
Running Time: 98
Date: 09/11/2009

Cloud 9 (2009)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Aged Heat

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Andreas Dresen directs this German drama about marital infidelity, though the twist here is that the characters are senior citizens. Inge works as a seamstress, and her husband, Werner (Horst Rehberg), is a decent, funny, old sort who likes to listen to records of train sounds. After 30 years of marriage, Inge decides to sleep with another man, Karl (Horst Westphal).

Dresen shows the events with a matter-of-fact clarity and patience, with a lack of editing or obnoxious musical score; the tone is startlingly quiet. He is also quite frank about nudity and sex among his 60- and 70-something characters, which comes across as quite a bit more tender and tasteful than you might expect. The approach allows for the story to unfold as a series of emotions, the excitement of new love and illicit sex, coupled with the remorse of returning to the marital home. There are even more mixed emotions, as when Inge decides to seduce her husband in his bath, perhaps out of guilt, perhaps out of something more complicated.

Unfortunately, there's not enough there for a full movie, so Dresen and his co-writers also throw in more traditional, dramatic sequences of bomb-dropping, such as Inge confiding in her daughter (Steffi Kühnert), who likes the idea of her mom getting a bit on the side.

Carlos Reygadas' Silent Light, from earlier this year, told a similar story with more poetry. It's something of a conventional bringdown for such a daring movie, but Cloud 9 is still worthy of a look. Not to be confused with this year's other releases, 9, $9.99, District 9, or the upcoming musical Nine.]

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