Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Cloud 9 (2008)

Synopsis: Golden aged infidelity in this poignant tale of forbidden love between German OAPs.

I'd seen a trailer for this when on holiday in Germany in 2008 and it looked like a thoughtful essay on an age old story: falling in love with someone you shouldn't fall in love with (cue Buzzcocks). It was a bit different to what I expected but it is an interesting take on the subject.

German pensioner Inge is married to Werner and lives in a flat, doing sewing and alterations. One day, she delivers a pair of trousers to a handsome gentleman named Kurt and before you can say 'shall I just take your inside leg measurement?' they are undressing and making love on his living room carpet. And there's no holds barred in what the film shows. For those of you with a queasy disposition when it comes to watching the older generation engage in adult fun, this won't be an easy watch. But, I found it just as erotic as many other well executed love scenes in European films and it's kind of reassuring to see that sex doesn't stop even when you're drawing your pension.

The illicit relationship gets off to a shaky start and Inge is plagued by guilt and her strong love for her husband. But she cannot deny her feelings for Kurt and tells her daughter (Werner's step daughter) what has happened. The daughter encourages Mum to continue the affair and to keep it quiet (huh?) but she can't hide it much longer and tells Werner. This sets off a chain of events that ends sadly but also hopefully.

I found Inge's character a bit irritating and frustrating. At one point in an argument Werner tells her that she only lives for the moment and doesn't know what she wants and you can see that about her. She's not a defiant, strong willed adulterer. She's confused, ashamed and yet still confident enough in her new found feelings to know that she wants Kurt more than Werner.

There are many scenes which will feel familiar to anyone in a long term relationship: Inge and Werner spending evenings in near silence, watching TV, listening to Werner's train records (!) and generally behaving like a couple that have got used to each other's company rather than really relishing it.

One thing I found particularly interesting was Inge's desire for her husband even after she begins the affair with Kurt. It's fascinating how someone can continue to conduct a sex life with one person whilst embarking on a new sex life with someone else. Somehow, this didn't seem odd but only added to the character's sense of confusion and trying to come to terms with such a seismic shift in her life.

After watching the film I read Roger Ebert's review and he mentions a similar film called Innocence (2000), which he reckons is even better. Cloud 9 does have its flaws - Werner's ending (without giving too much away) was particularly troublesome for me. I plan on seeking out Innocence to compare and contrast.

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