Although believing the plot and its characters may take some effort, Tykwer's films never cease to capture me with their dreamy scenes and music.
After 20 years together, fortyish arts professionals Hanna (Sophie Rois) and Simon (Sebastian Schipper) have succumbed to bed death. Other stresses burden the relationship: the passing of Simons mother, his diagnosis of testicular cancer soon after, the insistence of writer-director Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run, The International) on constantly using split screens. A third party, genetic scientist Adam (Devid Striesow), unknowingly reignites the couples lust by providing them each with a secret: Hanna begins an affair with Adam after meeting him at a conference; Simon, new to same-sexing, later gets a hand job from him at a public swimming pool. Although theres apparently nothing Adam cant doadvancing stem-cell research, sailing, motorcycle-riding, avant-garde choral singing, maintaining an excellent relationship with his ex-wife, bedding beauties of both gendersStriesow, with his gelatinous face, is an exceedingly uncharismatic screen presence. More willing suspension of disbeliefor suppression of gigglesis required when Adam, trying to assuage besotted Simons uncertainty about how he should now define himself, instructs: Say goodbye to your deterministic understanding of biology, a line last uttered by womens-studies majors circa 1987. Tykwer himself is unable to bid farewell to it, as is all too evident in the larded final scenes.
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