Andreas Dresen's daring, uncompromising and wholly compelling German film "Cloud 9" stars Ursula Werner as Inge, a plump, 67-year-old seamstress who works at the home she shares with Werner (Horst Rehberg), her husband of 30 years. On impulse, she decides to deliver personally a pair of pants she has altered for 76-year-old Karl (Horst Westphal) instead of letting him come to pick them up. No sooner does he open his front door than he and Inge are overcome with mutual attraction.
Dresen has said that he wanted to tell this love story as if the people were young, which means there are candid depictions of sex and nudity. In doing this he has been redemptive in his insistence that older people are still in fact among the living -- and loving. He is also challenging in that we are unaccustomed to seeing perfectly natural -- and indeed, skillful and tender -- lovemaking among seniors. (His actors look both ordinary and healthy.)
Inge, a forthright woman, becomes overcome with guilt at her infidelity yet also experiences the realization that she has always put her family's needs before her own. What she decides to do about her dilemma comprises the heart of this compassionate, perceptive film that won the German Film Award for Dresen as director and Werner for actress.
"Cloud 9" manages to be vital, wrenching and even humorous yet does not deny the omnipresence of mortality.
Kevin Thomas --
"Cloud 9." MPAA rating: Unrated. Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes. In German with English subtitles. In selected theaters.