Cloud 9 (Wolke 9)
Music Box Films' Cloud 9 (Wolke 9) is an award-winning German film opening in New York on August 14 and Los Angeles on August 28. Directed by Andreas Dresen who won The German Film Award for Best Director and starring Ursula Werner, who won for Best Actress, it also stars Horst Rehberg as Ursula's husband and Horst Westphal as her lover.
Cloud 9 tells the story of Inge, a plain, 67 year old housewife and home seamstress married to Werner, her second husband with whom she has a tender and affectionate relationship. When Inge decides uncharacteristically to deliver a pair of altered trousers to the home of Karl, a 76 year old customer, she becomes attracted to him. They kiss, and caught up in a sudden passion, they make love.
The rarely dealt with, refreshing story of people in their seventies experiencing desire and awakened sexuality is a gift to all students of the Hollywood formulary: the older man, younger woman; the photogenic other woman; the illicit love affair between people with perfect faces and perfect bodies. Inge, overweight and buxom, not touched by make-up or the surgeon's knife – Karl, with the weathered, wrinkled, sun-splotched face and body of an old man – both in the throes of an unexpected passion, is a filmgoer's gift and surprise in this bleak landscape of East Berlin.
Dresen has purposely made the first half of the film almost wordless. Watching Inge and Werner interact seamlessly shows us the sameness and tedium that can come with a thirty year marriage. There are a lot of quiet moments between them; watching their grandchildren, drinking wine, reading the paper, Werner and Rehberg recreate a comfortable relationship with great skill.
What is extraordinary is Inge deciding to deliver the trousers to Karl's home, changing her predictable life by such an unexpected act. Inge fights her new-found excitement by trying to shut Karl out after their lovemaking, refusing his calls and requests to see her. Eventually, she succumbs.
Inge tells her daughter, a sympathetic Steffi Kuhner, that she has fallen in love and is advised to keep this a secret from her husband. Her conscience will not let her keep silent and she resolves her conflict with great pain and trepidation.
Dresen guides these accomplished actors with a sure hand, allowing them to improvise. Michael Hammon treats us to lovely, lyrical cinematography, the guilty pleasure of nude swimming, interspersed with the grey landscape of railroad flats and rundown neighborhoods.
You will be hypnotized by this story of ordinary people presented in an extraordinary way and very worthy of the Cannes Film Festival prize and German "Academy Awards" it received.