Winter Sleepers (1997), which writer-director Tom Tykwer made just before his huge art-house success Run Lola Run, is in many ways that film’s direct opposite. Where Lola was kinetic, schematic and tight, Sleepers is leisurely, sloppy and about a half-hour too long. And where Lola rushed by with a hyper techno beat, Sleepers lingers to the lulling accompaniment of the likes of Arvo Pärt.
Filmed in the lovely snow-draped environs of Berchtesgaden, Germany, the film has the kind of plot so reliant on coincidence that one suspects it may be, at heart, a comedy. Rene (Ulrich Matthes), who suffers from short-term memory loss, steals a car and has an accident which seriously injures the young daughter of a local farmer named Theo (Josef Bierbichler). Fleeing the scene, he shortly afterward begins dating Laura (Marie-Lou Sellem), a nurse who just happens to be treating the injured child and who also just happens to be best friends with a girl who’s dating the guy whose car Rene stole and crashed.
All this is leading up to Theo going after the wrong guy and a goofy if satisfying denouement (it helps that the wrong guy is an asshole, while Rene is a sensitive sufferer). The film is an entertaining, if pokey, soap opera whose pretensions are subsumed by Tykwer’s facile camera, especially when it’s floating, godlike, above the majestic Alps.
Showing exclusively at the Detroit Film Theatre (inside the DIA, 5200 Woodward, Detroit), Friday through Sunday. Call 313-833-3237.
E-mail Richard C. Walls at firstname.lastname@example.org.