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a home + living guide for the post-college, pre-parenthood, quasi-adult generation

03.07.2002

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flick pick | The Princess and 
the Warrior
2000
Directed + written by: Tom Tykwer
Starring: Franka Potente, Benno FŁrmann, Joachim Krůl
Language: German [with English subtitles]
Look for it at the video store under:
drama, foreign [Germany]
Watch it when youíre in the mood for
something: artsy-fartsy, lovey 
The critic says: Ĺ/ 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor: /5

Plot synopsis Sissi is a nurse in the mental institution thatís both her workplace and her home Ė she has a small apartment there Ė and is beloved by the patients for whom she cares. One day, while out in town with one of her favorite patients, a truck driver comes barreling down the street and is momentarily distracted from keeping his eyes on the road just as Sissi and her companion are about to cross. Sissi manages to push the patient out of harmís way, but the truck strikes her. This is how Sissi finds herself pinned under the truck, unable to move. Itís so quiet, she thinks Ė then realizes itís because she canít hear her breath. Meanwhile, a sad handsome stranger named Bodo, whoís on the run from two angry men, ducks under the same truck to hide from his pursuers. He notices Sissi lying there and realizes sheís in trouble. Wait, he tells her, then slides out from under the truck again. He returns, as promised, with a straw in hand; quickly, he cuts a small slit in her throat and pushes in the straw. The emergency tracheotomy saves Sissi from death, but itís meeting the stranger that changes her life. After months spent recovering in the hospital, Sissi still canít get him out of her mind, and so she sets out to find him.

Review Too often, a director stumbles upon the perfect recipe for a hip, clever, successful movie and ends up recycling the same formula over and over again until the audience finally screams enough, and the directorís career goes kaput. Tykwerís previous film, the wonderfully kinetic Run Lola Run, was so distinctively quirky and stylish, and so universally loved (itís the rare foreign flick that even non art-house-movie-lovers seem to have seen and adored), that you could easily have imagined its director sticking with the tried and true. Instead, Tykwer followed up his hit with The Princess and the Warrior, which is every bit as slow-moving and still as Lola is heart-pumping frenetic. Donít get me wrong: itís never boring to watch, thanks in large part to the gorgeous cinematography and star Franka Potenteís imperfectly beautiful face Ė which has the curious ability to seem open/vulnerable and a little reserved all at the same time (something about the expressive eyes combined with the strong set of her jaw Ė thereís a hint of the strong emotions lurking within, but you get the sense sheís trying hard to keep it contained). But while Lola seemed tailor-made for the short-attention-spanned, MTV generation, Princess requires patience: itís like an underwater dream, where everything seems to float by in slow motion, and youíre waiting, waiting, holding your breath just like Sissi is, hoping for something to happen. Things do happen, little quirks of fate and surprising connections that keep putting Sissi and Bodo in the same place at the same time. Whatís lovely and reaffirming about Tykwerís version of fate is that all the tiny coincidences, the small miracles of chance, only serve to present opportunities. In the end, the message seems to be, itís the little conscious decisions we choose to make that actually determine our paths. óreviewed by Y. Sun

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