After Rudi's wife Trudi suddenly dies, he travels to Japan to fulfill her dream of being a Butoh dancer.After Rudi's wife Trudi suddenly dies, he travels to Japan to fulfill her dream of being a Butoh dancer.After Rudi's wife Trudi suddenly dies, he travels to Japan to fulfill her dream of being a Butoh dancer.
A German movie set largely in Japan, "Cherry Blossoms" is a beautiful and heartbreaking film about living for the moment and of not putting off till tomorrow what you can do today. It's also marvelously perceptive about the dynamics of parent/child relationships, especially when, as is true in this case, the parents are viewed by their self-absorbed offspring more as burdens to be endured than blessings to be cherished. The irony is that Rudi and Trudi have more in common with - and indeed are treated better by - many of the strangers and casual acquaintances they come in contact with than they are by their own children.
But the movie is also an examination of marriage and of how partners can become so entwined with one another as a couple that they lose their identities as individuals, missing out on the dreams and goals they had for their lives when they were still young and unattached. This is certainly the case for Trudi, who has harbored a lifelong desire to take up Japanese dancing, a desire that Rudi, in his selfish indifference, has pretty much squelched in her for the duration of their marriage. Such a realization of lost opportunities can lead to regrets, recriminations and despair at the end of the road, yet in the case of Rudi and Trudi, one learns that lesson a little too late - and the other just in the nick of time.
Elmer Wepper and Hannelore Elsner are magnificent as the aged couple, superbly capturing the deep-seated but often unspoken love that each spouse has for the other. A fine supporting cast, led by Maximilian Bruckner as one of their sons and Aya Irizuki as a young street artist who befriends Rudi in his time of greatest need, adds to the movie's richness. Another crucial element in the emotional force of the movie is the richly elegiac score by Claus Bantzer.
The glory of this exquisitely realized and profoundly moving film is its willingness to grapple with some truly major issues - of life and death, of sorrow and loss, of filial and marital relationships - without getting heavy-handed and preachy about it in the process. Every moment in this film feels real and unforced, yet the movie itself has the minutely worked-out grace and precision of Japanese performance art (which we see quite a bit of throughout the course of the film). In fact, near the end, there is a fantasy dance sequence that is, quite frankly, one of the most utterly spellbinding scenes I've come across in ages.
Masterfully directed by Doris Dorrie, "Cherry Blossoms" is a lyrical and unforgettable work that takes its place among the truly outstanding films of recent times.
- Nov 22, 2009