The devil himself on a psychiatrist's couch. He seduces her, plays tricks on her. But is he for real? The movie does a pretty good job at keeping this question open. Every time Cora (Corinna Harfouch) and the audience, considers to believe in the supra-natural elements of his story, she finds facts that could justify a rational explanation. This part of the movie works quite well.
I also like Till Schweiger as the self-confident, playful womanizer. A real man, not just a uninterested couch-potato as Coras husband. Great acting, but not enough of a plot to let him play out the extremes.
You don't see the devil being really evil, he just talks about it. When he tells some absurd story about his influence on Maria Callas' career (the greatest opera singer of all times), it feels like a history lesson with black-and-white original footage. Then the endlessly repeated references to black poodles. This is a German movie primarily for a German audience, who had to read Goethe's "Faust" in high school. "What's at the poodle's core?" Yes, we know, the devil. An occasional reference is fun, but the endless repetition bores.
Compare this to other devilish movies with excellent male lead actors. They get their opportunity to shine, for example Al Pacino in "The Devil's Advocate" (1997), Robert De Niro in "Angel Heart" (1987), Jack Nicholson in "The Witches of Eastwick" (1987).
Unfortunately the plot makes things even more complicated, by adding the classical story of a house-wive in her mid-life crisis, and the story of a psychologist who falls knowingly for a con-man's psychological tricks. Compare this with "House of Games" (1987), a focused plot with surprising twist and turns till the end, and lots of empathy for the female main character.
I'm also a bit disappointed by the visual effects. Flash-backs, cut-in dream sequences, 1950s footage. This technique has been a staple since the 1980s. I'd expect a Bernd Eichinger in the late 1990s to be a little less obvious in his choice of imagery. It always stops short of being interesting.
But all turns out well, because of Corinna Harfouch. (Admittingly, I'm a big fan of hers.) The ugly duckling turns into a swan, the bored house-wive and naive doctor into a sensual and self-confident woman who gets her revenge. She and Till Schweiger play well together. Their performance alone make this movie fun to watch.