Cloud 9 Dithers Like One Long Fretful Afternoon

Seamstress Inge (Ursula Werner), professorial husband Karl (Horst Westphal), and silver fox Werner (Horst Rehberg) form a Berlin love triangle with more than 200 collective years of experience. She strikes up the affair after hand-delivering a pair of pants, and, within minutes, their living-room-floor intimacy goes beyond whether Werner dresses left or right. Rather than a tale of geriatric groove-getting, German director Andreas Dresen's film dwells on Inge's ambivalent compartmentalizing: She's in love with her reliable companion of three decades, yet newly contented with her escape from routine, yet demurring when pressed about her intentions. German theater veterans, the age-appropriate actors improvised their dialogue, but often accomplish more through silence and the eloquence of their old faces. The psychology is rudimentary, however, and Werner the caring Other Man is little more than a sketch, a hale figure out of a prescription-drug ad. Inge's vacillations are mechanically interspersed with her participation in a choir and family gatherings. Besides the frank, blithe sex scenes, a melodramatic ending aims to banish any last hope of gemütlichkeit, but the film comes to feel curiously incomplete, like one long fretful afternoon.

 
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