The Princess And The Warrior

The Princess And The Warrior

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The Princess And The Warrior

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The Princess And The Warrior

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Over the course of his last three features, German writer-director Tom Tykwer hasn't evolved so much as changed speeds, spinning the same methodically worked-out theories of coincidence and fate through the breathlessly paced Run Lola Run and the slow, elegant Wintersleepers. His latest, The Princess And The Warrior, leans more toward the latter, which is unfortunate, because he's a much greater visual stylist than a philosopher, and his work doesn't benefit from the extra scrutiny. Not surprisingly, the film's most exhilarating sequence is a marvel of technical craftsmanship, as the arcs of its two central characters meet with a spectacular collision. Taking a brief break from her duties as a nurse at a mental hospital, Franka Potente makes her way to a bank in Wuppertal, where she's been instructed by a friend to pick up an unknown item in a safe deposit box. Meanwhile, enigmatic thief Benno Fürmann, who planned to rob the same bank later that afternoon, flees from the authorities on the back of a truck. When the truck strikes Potente, Fürmann ducks under the carriage and performs an emergency tracheotomy by sticking a straw into her throat just as she's about to suffocate. Convinced that their stars are in alignment, Potente spends the rest of the movie tracking him down and attempting to convince him that they're soulmates, but she's repeatedly rebuffed in her efforts. Their scenes together should crackle with romantic tension, but Tykwer has apparently encouraged Potente and Fürmann to glaze over like A.I.'s "mechas"; when tears stream down the latter's face, as they frequently do, it's a miracle that his circuitry doesn't short. Tykwer also spends a lot of time detailing life in the mental ward, but apart from Potente's uneasy physical relationship with one of the inmates and a clever scene of intuitive sleuthing with another, it's hard to fathom its significance in the overall scheme of things. For a while, such mysteries lend an air of intrigue to The Princess And The Warrior that's sustained by Tykwer's immaculate puzzle structure, which withholds the connections until the last possible moment. But when the pieces finally come together in a ridiculous metaphysical coda, Tykwer's reputation as a junior-league Kieslowski becomes embarrassingly exposed.

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