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Liebestraum More at IMDbPro »

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28 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

Haunting, dreamlike film best experienced in uncut version!

Author: hippiedj from Palm Desert, California
14 September 2001

I love discovering films that completely surprise me and have me wanting to discuss them for hours with friends. Liebestraum had a very strong effect on me, and then when I found the "unrated" version I was overwhelmed all over again.

I love films like those from David Lynch, but sometimes Lynch tries too hard to make his characters as strange as possible (Wild At Heart was absolutely his worst offering). Mike Figgis' Liebestraum has the look and feel of a Lynch film, but the characters seem to be wandering through a haunting yet gorgeous dream, seemingly all sedated (something in the water?). Because this film is so well done, the slow and dreamy quality gives it a life of its own and I loved every moment of it. Which leads me back to this "unrated" business of it...

I first saw the "R" version on VHS (having missed its theatrical release), and by accident found it was available in an "unrated" director's cut that is about 9 minutes longer. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT: if you possibly can, see this longer version instead of the other! The one scene that takes place at a brothel is really the most important scene in the film, bringing several points of the plot into light! It shows that the prostitutes are also the same actresses as the nurses in the hospital, and a bit more insight to a fetish of Nick (Kevin Anderson) and the importance of the scent on his fingers. Once I saw this scene, the film made so much more sense and seemed like an entirely different film altogether! Apparently MGM decided to just put the "R" version on the DVD and place the brothel scene as a separate supplement to view as a "deleted scene." I'm afraid I may just hang onto my director's cut on VHS and watch that one instead. View that scene and you'll understand why it needs to be a part of the film.

Otherwise, WOW, what an experience. Nick's devotion to trying to save an old building with a dark past, the discovery of secrets and family ties....all beautifully revealed with stunning visuals and panache. Of course I found the story fascinating as well, so all these aspects when put together are breathtaking. Kevin Anderson, Pamela Gidley, and Bill Pullman manage give their roles meaning in what must have been frustrating to try and understand what the heck this film was going to really be -- It reminds me, for instance, Jessica Harper saying when she was working on Dario Argento's film Suspiria, she was not sure what that film was actually about because it was such an unusual project. But not to worry, much of Liebestraum's secrets are carefully revealed. It has been said Kim Novak's role was wasted since she barely speaks from a hospital bed in her scenes, but what else was she supposed to do?There must have been a reason she did the part anyway, and to hear Kim Novak utter a taboo word in one scene will make your jaw drop! Even Alicia Witt's brief dream sequence appearances and her performing the title piano piece along side the end credits is impressive. Now, if only I could get the soundtrack on the 10 Records label....anyone have a clue on that one? I've tried and tried and never could obtain it.

Accepting the surreal atmosphere in this film will help you then accept the equally surreal manner the characters possess. I've always been confounded as to why personalities are so guarded and bitchy in Hitchcock films, or even in many of the Italian giallos. Liebestraum's townsfolk seem to be on guard because you never know if someone knows more than they're letting on. There are mysteries to the town and the Ralston building and you have to watch each character like a hawk, as the film has subtle and symbolic clues (like the nurse/prostitute connection).

I was very impressed by the restraint used in the sexual aspect of Liebestraum -- this is the kind of film that had all sorts of opportunites to display nudity yet it held back (I wonder how many takes it took to get that towel on Anderson just right?), and made sex more sensual actually by giving us less to see.

I could go on about many scenes that had me awestruck, but that would take up too much space here! Nick's dreams and some creepy walks through the Ralston building are just a couple of the striking ones. See it to believe it for yourself, and I cannot stress this enough, hunt down the director's cut and see that one first if you can, you won't be sorry.

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23 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

Warning! Spoiler Alert (potentially)

Author: Popeye Barrnumb from Northern California, USA
18 June 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As far as I can see, pretty much everyone has gotten the "plot twist" of this film wrong, from IMDb commenters to all of the "pro" reviewers. Although my comments/"review" are effectively a spoiler, I think people just might enjoy the film more if you knew this information beforehand. Or just come back here and check to see if you got it right afterward. If you even see this, since I am so far down. Anyway, I'll give you a hint first, and then get into the spoiler. (and "review")

Hint: Keep a VERY close eye on the TRUE relationship between the two main characters: Nick and Jane. What are you missing? (if you are)

And now for the rest of the story. But first, let me say that, although the film is beautifully shot, and very nourish, and the acting is pretty good, considering, the film eventually fails I think because most people will not "get it", and end up irritated and frustrated.

So here's the spoiler: Nick and Jane were blood-related. Stop now and watch the movie if you want to "figure it out for yourself". Otherwise, continue on and follow closely.

The man and woman who were having sex "years ago" and were shot (by a (pregnant) WOMAN, NOT! a man! -- work with me here, people -- at least pay attention), they were related to the current time people as follows. The man who was shot was Nick's father. (notice the resemblance in the police report photos, like Nick does) Who was (obviously?) married to Nick's dieing mother. Nick's father was having an affair with a BLONDE woman who we end up finding out was a Ralston (IF you are really paying attention), possibly the wife of the man who owned the building, or maybe just a rich daughter -- whatever. So, the WOMAN who shot them was Nick's mother, who was pregnant (big belly) with Nick at the time. She went whacko, as was mentioned, and so Nick had to be adopted out, because he lost his mother and his father.

And now for Jane. At the end of the movie, she "freaks out" when she sees the (BLONDE!) woman in the wheelchair. See where I'm going with this? That woman was her mother. Remember, she was adopted, too, and didn't know her parents, either. So, the woman was shot in the head (they kind of made a point of showing the scar), and didn't die. Only Nick's father died. This is also the reason Nick's mother freaked out when Jane went into her hospital room. She either knew who she was, or, was near-dieing confused and thought she was the blonde woman she shot. Again, what-ev-er.

(also, remember Nick's mother freaking out when she found out she was back in the town? -- it sure would have been nice if all of this was more evident, which is why the film really fails)

Now, what I'm thinking is this, and it needs some stretching and "guessing" and both deductive and inductive logic. (this is why I always make a point of stating that film, TV, whatever, should always be watched "intelligently" -- even if it's only watched for entertainment -- you will (and do, regardless) get things out of it that you won't even recognize or understand or know about, until MAYBE later -- although much of it is subconscious -- regardless, it's ALL good -- people who don't watch film and TV and such tend to be almost as bad as people who don't read books -- somewhat (or a lot) shallow; lacking in wisdom; common sense escapes them; not as able to deal with and solve life's problems; and a host of other unfortunate traits -- it is AS BAD as someone who is uneducated or under-educated -- but I digress)

Anyway, I think Nick's father impregnated the blonde Ralston woman, who was Jane's mother, which make Nick and Jane step brother and sister. THAT is the real (final and major) "plot twist" of the film. Did they figure it out, and know, and have sex anyway? I don't know.

As for why Jane's husband was acting the way he was, maybe he knew who Jane really was, and some other stuff, or maybe he was just a jealous husband and land developer on a tight schedule who was having marital problems with his wife. What do you think? I think I got a HELL of a lot closer than anyone else. Anyway, the film is better if you know what I've written about here. No irritation and frustration at the end. I hate when that happens. (sorry this is so long)

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15 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

During the filming of this movie

Author: Jacquelyn Hull from Florida
5 October 2003

I was living in the upstate NY town that this was filmed in. I wanted to see the movie as soon as it was available, mainly for that reason and I was pleasantly surprised at this unique movie. The story line is quite intriguing and really draws you in, slowly but surely. So, not only do I have in my video library a fine, interesting film, but also on film a town that I grew up in and love. A definite must see! Note: I also loved the use of the classical music.

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11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

One to study!

Author: tropicalrobbie from Thailand
21 December 2006

I think that anyone under 30 years of age will find it hard to relate to the essence of this film...make that 40! Adoption - rootless - the symbolism of the building is so powerful. It becomes the essence of all that once was life and strength. Now it has become abandoned and derelict. Love - loss - distraction - deception - and the patterns of the past are cleverely conjured back into the present by the marvellous direction.

This is a movie that speaks about Loss - and presents this in evocative and intuitive visual terms. It's far from the MTV slickness of 2 clips a second - because it's engineered and paced to touch chords. David Lean is a genius in this.

If you watch this film and become bored, then you need to try again in the later half of your life.

It's one that I'd take if I was going to be marooned on a desert island.Along with Citizen Kane, Ghostbusters 1 and Damage.

Marvellous! Rob

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16 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Better than the comments give it credit for

Author: tom_korff from Aarhus, Denmark
31 January 2004

Some of the comments here on this movie seem to point in the direction that people simply don't seem to be able to grasp the subtle implications of this movie. The movie consists of two intertwined stories, one in the past and one in the present, and until the very end, the story of the present is a direct repetition of the story of the past, only in a different setting. And some of the people from the story of the past are still alive and present in the story of the present.

Most importantly, Bill Pullmans character, Paul Kessler, plays the repetition-role of the angry husband, who one generation ago killed his wife and her lover. Only Paul Kessler doesn't (yet) have an adulterous wife to kill, so his hate and anger is pointed at the building, in which the past act of hatred took place. Paul Kessler is the engine that drives the repetition-pattern in the present of past events, and the two main characters, Nick Kaminsky and Pauls wife Jane, can't help but to play their part in repeating history.

The love- and the hate-stories of the past and the present and their repetitive nature are the drives and motivators of this movie, and everything else evolves and is motivated from this pattern.

The movie really isn't that subtle, it simply can't be explained by mere deductive logic. It's a love- and hate- and crime- and almost a ghoststory and if you absolutely have to have an explanation for everything in this movie, the explanation would have to be found in the explanation of the present through the past and in the illogical event of the almost complete repetition of the past in the present.

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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Excellent movie; great music

Author: bob-694 ( from Gulfport, Mississippi, USA
13 December 2006

This is a very good movie, as discussed by Janet Maslin in her NY Times review of same. It is very moody and "atmospheric" with a lot of silence between the lines, and I like that kind of film. The best part for me came at the very end when the Franz Liszt piano solo Liebestraum begins playing, and then during the credits you see the full performance (about 4 to 5 minutes long) by the pianist. I don't recall her name, but she appears to be very young, has long red hair, and plays like an absolute master. Thus I became a huge fan of Liebestrum, and its composer. Something similar happens during the credits of the movie The Pianist, where the performance of the piano music is actually a highlight of the film.

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15 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

a small classic

Author: crucialp ( from Mechelen, Belgium.
5 December 2002

I was hooked from the first minute I saw this one! All my friends to whom I recommended this film, liked it too. And they said all the same. Good, you told us to watch this movie very carefully, and keep concentrated on it, constantly, cause it will keep you guessing long after you seen it! Seldom I've seen a film, so slow, but so good! It has such a strange feel about it, it's erotic and it has thriller effects, especially each time somebody enters the building. The leads are good, Pullman exellent! Mike Figgis is a great director, but he never made something good, as this, afterwards. Very nice photography, and good soundtrack.

Peter Piessens.

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9 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Not quite as good as Dead Again.

Author: Phil Bucci from Mississippi
30 July 2001

But given that, not a terrible watch. I read a comment about the lighting being special in this film. This really added to my enjoyment. I suppose that Kevin Anderson and his management expected his career to take off, because he did Leibestraum the same year (1991) as "Sleeping With The Enemy" with Julia Roberts, whose career was blossoming. Not that Kevin hasn't hit the big time since then. Who knows. Maybe he has wildly surpassed his personal goals. I enjoy his performances, including the TV thing about a Catholic priest a few years back. For DVD renters, catch the deleted scene. This is the coolest. The ladies at the Cat House, are also the nurses in the hospital. This revelation was the highlight of the film. For that reason, I don't understand why it was left out. There are equally explicit scenes that were left in, and they dovetail with the deleted scene. But, I was not the writer and director of Internal Affairs, successfully released the previous year.

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11 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

A forgotten masterpiece

Author: Francoesque-1 from Paris, France
11 February 2002

I first saw a trailer for this on a now defunct late night TV programme back in 1991. It had me hooked from the start with stylish lighting, great music and sharp editing promising a modern noir thriller with shades of "Dead Again". Due to a limited cinema release the first chance I got to see the film was a couple of years later when I saw the box in a video store. I bought it immediately, figuring it might be interesting. I underestimated. This is a fantastic film filled with emotion and beauty. The first time I saw it it blew me away. I expected a cool little thriller and was rewarded with something much more. This is not a murder mystery or a thriller, per se, but a love story shot through a noir lens. The soundtrack (also by Figgis) is astounding and the acting is perfect. Particular kudos to the then-unknown Bill Pullman who puts in a career best performance. Also, if you actually figure out the central twist of the film (listen to the conversation in the car between Jane and Nick) you will wonder how on earth Figgis got this past a studio. Ever since I first saw it I've been trying to convert my friends to it's wonders with much success. See it now and your life may not be better, but two hours of it will have been well spent. Remember: Only you can prevent forest fires

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9 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Architects' Dreams

Author: tedg ( from Virginia Beach
14 December 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Spoilers herein.

Figgis has real talent. He's unpredictable, but here he really sings. This is great, intelligent. Many compare it to `Dead Again' which debuted in the same year and which had star appeal. That film was an actor's romp, this is a filmmaker's song.

This has many features that I find really attractive in a film:

-- films that construct and fold realities, this despite the blizzard of recent such films. The folding isn't particularly clever plotwise, but it does not intend to be, instead relying on the mechanics listed below.

-- films where buildings are characters and photographed as such. The cool thing here is the deliberate projection of the architect's fantasy as a building, which it would be when his passions are centered on buildings.

-- films that are firstly cinematic and then dramatic. `Dead Again' was conceived and executed as a drama with the projection from the actors and story -- as noted, this starts with a complex of images (and sound! don't forget the sound) with everything in service to that.

-- films that reinvent mystery cinematically. This wasn't the most engaging mysterywise, but I don't think a good film solution has been found yet.

Plus, the characters here are so, so physically attractive. The whole thing revolves around Alicia Witt (the redheaded girl/whorehouse pianist). If you understand her, you got it. This is stuff worth watching with your eyes.

You must, must see it with the missing scene restored -- or if viewing via DVD, go to the extra scene manually when Nick gets a ride back from the party with the sheriff. Do your part to prevent forest fires.

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