9 December 2008 | richard_sleboe
Because he could not stop for me, I kindly stopped for Death
This is easily Wim Wender's most pretentious movie to date, and that's saying a lot given that Wenders is perhaps the most pretentious director of his generation. There is so much symbolic Mumbo-Jumbo I don't know where to begin: Dungeons. Coffins. Dead people. Ghosts. Including Lou Reed as a black-and-white specter of himself. Flocks of sheep. A shape-shifting city skyline. Hooded strangers, shooting arrows and causing crashes. All of which I have seen before, and with more panache: In "Dark City", in Cronenberg's "Crash", Paul Auster's "Lulu on the Bridge", Tom Tykwer's "Winter Sleepers", even in TV's "Lost". I'm not even mentioning "The Devil's Advocate". At the height of his self-importance, Wenders has Dennis Hopper, in the part of Death himself, make a speech about the merits of analog photography. Sounds ridiculous? Go figure. But the weakest link is Wender's choice of Campino as photographer Finn Gilbert, the lead character. Campino, a German rock star in his day job, may be photogenic in an aging toy boy way, but an actor he sure is not. Anything he says sounds like a line from a script, and the script is weak enough to begin with. Wenders asks too much of him, and too little of his co-lead Giovanna Mezzogiornio, a fine actress restricted to sleepy smiles and sullen glances in this movie. Charming guest appearances by Jana Pallaske as a feisty arts student, Inga Busch as a sexy swimming instructor in Ugg boots and a bathing suit, and by the divine Milla Jovovich as her glamorous self. Nice enough soundtrack, featuring Bonnie Prince Billy, Nick Cave, and The Velvet Underground. Watch with your eyes closed.