Bruno Stroszek is released from prison and warned to stop drinking. He has few skills and fewer expectations: with a glockenspiel and an accordion, he ekes out a living as a street musician. He befriends Eva, a prostitute down on her luck. After they are harried and beaten by the thugs who have been Eva's pimps, they join Bruno's neighbor, Scheitz, an elderly eccentric, when he leaves Germany to live in Wisconsin. In that winter bound, barren prairie, Bruno works as a mechanic, Eva as a waitress. They buy a trailer. Then, bills mount, the bank threatens to repossess the trailer, Eva wants privacy, and inexorably, the promise of a new life deserts Bruno.Written by
Stroszek, directed by Werner Herzog, features Bruno S. who previously starred in Herzog's The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser. The actor's speaking style and mannerisms are much the same in both films, but ultimately this film falls short of the earlier one. In it, Bruno Stroszek is a German alcoholic who, released from prison, takes in a prostitute. If they're lovers, it's hard to tell, because what we see makes their relationship seem totally platonic. They are targeted for harassment, and seek a better life by moving to Wisconsin- even though Stroszek doesn't speak English. The prostitute works as a waitress, but falls back to her old patterns and abandons Stroszek and the elderly German man they were living with.
There are certain messages in this film, and a probably important one is that it's hard to run away from trouble. Moving to a new city, or country in this case, doesn't always do it. When the prostitute leaves Stroszek for Vancouver, leaving him with a mortgage and no income, you know he's screwed. Beyond these elements, Stroszek is a movie with character but is not altogether impressive. Bruno Stroszek is interesting, but not as extraordinary as Kaspar Hauser. Ultimately, it leaves me a little underwhelmed.
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