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The Princess And The Warrior

German director Tom Tykwer's somber follow-up to his acclaimed Run Lola Run is a less frenetic and more melancholy rumination on love, sorrow and destiny.


Sissi (Franka Potente, Lola's shining star), a shy, reserved nurse at a psychiatric hospital, leads a simple and isolated life until a freak car accident nearly kills her. The very guy who caused the wreck, a small-time crook named Bodo (Benno Fürmann), saves her life by performing an emergency tracheotomy on her (a riveting, shocking cinematic sequence, by the way)--and then disappears without a trace. Lonely Sissi becomes obsessed with the notions of chance and destiny and sets out to find Bodo to get some answers. But Bodo has issues of his own that he's dealing with, like his wife's death, not to mention the bank heist he's planning with his brother.


This time around it's ''Act, Franka, act,'' and Potente proves she's up to the challenge of standing still and performing rather than tearing through German village byways. Soulful and subtle, Potente proves Lola was no happy accident--she is without doubt one to watch in the coming years. As the isolated, old-soul ''princess'' of this story, she doesn't say a lot, but she conveys volumes in her wide-eyed gaze and exhibits a steely persistence in her attempts to track down Bodo. The ''warrior'' Fürmann is heartbreaking as the cheerless, tormented, two-bit criminal haunted by memories of his dead wife. Not only is he at war with outside forces, he's at war with himself--the side of him that wants to love, and the side that wants to hate.


If you're hoping for the same frantic, techno-beat tale of Lola, Tykwer's second effort may disappoint--it moves at a much slower pace and the characters are more fleshed out. But it is similar to Lola in the way Tykwer steps backward and lets the audience in on what's happening, while allowing the characters work their way through a plot that tightly interweaves several story lines. Although you may have a good idea of what will happen next, the actors and their characters hold your interest (and that's saying a lot when you're trying to watch and decipher tiny white subtitles at the same time). Tykwer throws everything he must have learned at film school in his camerawork and some may find it overdone, but there are some truly magical shots (i.e., when the camera takes you through the opening of a seashell and travels through it like a tunnel).

Bottom Line

Run, cineasts, run to a small theater near you to catch this brooding, highly visual, make-you-think indie.