The Princess and the Warrior Review

Jun 29, 2001 | 9:49am EDT

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).

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