Winter Sleepers (1997)

I was so impressed with Tom Tykwer's Run Lola Run that I pretty much added all of his films to my watchlist. Several years later, I finally decided to watch some of those and I started with Winter Sleepers (German: Winterschläfer).

Set in a snowy alpine resort in Bavaria (aka dream place), the film follows the lives of five people --Laura (Marie-Lou Sellem), a surgical nurse, Rebecca (Floriane Daniel), a translator, René (Ulrich Matthes), a projectionist in a cinema, Marco (Heino Ferch), a skiing instructor and Rebecca's boyfriend, and Theo (Josef Bierbichler), a middle-aged farmer-- whose lives are seemingly unconnected.

Being more specific and going more deeply into the plot wouldn't be fair for those who haven't seen the film and are interesting in seeing it as the plot, although a little contrived, simplistic and not always interesting, takes some unexpected turns, and as such, has an unexpected ending.

The plot isn't that important anyway as Winter Sleepers is more of a character-driven film. The problem is that the characters aren't developed enough so it's difficult to relate or connect to any of them, they aren't consistent enough to be believable, and they aren't that interesting.

Despite this, the cast does a pretty good job. Marie-Lou Sellem gives a compelling and fascinating performance as Laura, a smart and sensible woman with an inferiority complex; and Floriane Daniel brings to the film the sex-appeal required by the role of Rebecca. The best performances though come from the male cast. Heino Ferch really makes you hate his character, Marco, the typical unfaithful man; Ulrich Matthes nails the kinda melancholic and odd intellectual René; but it's Josef Bierbichler that steals the scene as his portrayal of a grieving father is beyond convincing and quite heart-wrenching.

Prokino Filmverleih, Bavaria Film International
Easily the best part of Winter Sleepers is the visual aspect. The film has the same flashy visuals and editing of Run Lola Run --although this time the pace is way slower--, gorgeous cinematography and art direction, and an intriguing use of colours.

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