Franka PotenteBenno FurmannJoachim KrolChrista Fast
The Princess and the Warrior
Medium: film
Year: 2000
Writer/director: Tom Tykwer
Language: German
Country: Germany
Actor: Franka Potente, Benno Furmann, Joachim Krol, Lars Rudolph, Melchior Beslon, Ludger Pistor, Christa Fast, Susanne Bredehoft, Gottfried Breitfuss, Steffen Scheumann, Rolf Dennemann, Ali Nejat-Nouei, Sybille J. Schedwill, Peter Ender
Format: 135 minutes
Website category: Foreign language
Review date: 30 October 2012
It's a German film from the director of Run Lola Run and (with the Wachowskis) Cloud Atlas. Don't expect it to resemble those films, though. It's long, slow and kind of dull, but in an amiable way.
This is one of those objectively admirable films that does nothing wrong and has a storyline that you'd expect to have been wrapped up in half the running time. I sort of liked it, but I have almost no notes at all. This is going to be a short review.
Firstly, a summary. The title characters are a nurse in a secure psychiatric ward (Franka Potente, from Run Lola Run) and a messed-up ex-soldier (Benno Furmann). No, it's not a historical or a fantasy. It's set in the present day and it has a soothing tone that softens some harsh material. Potente regards the psychiatric hospital as her home, but it's still a place where an old man might punch you in the face and then ask to be strapped down. Potente doesn't have a boyfriend, unless you count the insistent young patient to whom she gives a hand job on her night shift. Patients scream and cry. You'd expect this to be intense, but it's not. Instead it's seen matter-of-factly through her eyes, making it feel almost like a refuge.
Well, except for the glass-eating scene. That was gross.
Furmann we're introduced to as he mentally rehearses suicide on a motorway bridge. "When are you going to fly?" "Real soon." He's indistinguishable from Potente's patients and when he and his brother discuss their escape to Australia later, I wasn't sure if they were planning a bank job or about to try to tunnel 6,300 km down through the Earth's core. Is he mentally unstable? Yes, obviously. He used to have a wife, by the way. The only question is how badly he's broken and where he'll end up.
In time, Potente and Furmann meet in a scene that includes an improvised tracheotomy. This is memorable. In particular it has the effect you'd expect on Potente, who goes looking for Furmann, despite the fact that he's downright violent in not wanting to be found.
That's it, really. I've run out of things to say already. The story continues, obviously, but you don't want me to spoil the whole thing. It feels relaxed, deliberately underplaying its story and backpedalling away from what could have been an intense crime thriller. The running time stretches out the experience to become almost gentle, despite a story that includes unstable violent people, guns, a bit of blood and so on.
Besides, the main character's Potente and she's normal.
Did I enjoy it? I think so, sort of, but I can't pretend it managed to make me forget the 135-minute running time. I was half watching, half waiting. It's done with integrity and I thought it was impeccable in a minute-by-minute way. It's likeable. I never rejected the film. I just never quite embraced it either, despite the fact that it kept me watching peacefully enough and I was interested in finding out what would happen to the characters. Some people have thought it's a beautiful film and I'm not going to argue with them. You could do worse if you find it on television, but I wouldn't suggest going out and hunting it down either.