Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB
Original Title: Homo Faber
France/Germany/Greece/United Kingdom, 1991. Action Films, Bioskop Film, Stefi 2. Screenplay by Rudy Wurlitzer, adaptation by James Ragan, based on the novel by Max Frisch. Cinematography by Giorgos Arvanitis, Pierre Lhomme. Produced by Eberhard Junkersdorf. Music by Stanley Myers. Production Design by Nicos Perakis. Costume Design by Barbara Baum. Film Editing by Dagmar Hirtz.
Fate is a global concern in Volker Schlondorff’s beautifully photographed romantic drama, which impressively recreates the look of the late fifties in various countries from South America to Europe. Sam Shepard plays an American engineer whose flight to Mexico makes an emergency landing in the desert, putting him in the way of a fellow passenger who has a significant connection to a love affair of his past. We see flashbacks of Shepard’s relationship with Barbara Sukowa and their bitter breakup at the beginning of the war, then we catch up with him back in the present as he boards a ship in New York for a conference in Paris. Aboard the boat he meets beautiful young Julie Delpy, who plans to hitchhike across the continent until their passionate affair inspires her to travel in his car instead, going through France, Italy and eventually Greece before the signs he has been ignoring finally force him to put the pieces in order. Schlondorff’s usual reserve is on display here, for all the romance in the story it’s not one that brims over with passion and because of this it won’t work for everyone, particularly considering the dark turn it takes at the end. Treating its conclusion like an inevitability speaks to a kind of braininess that makes it feel very thematic, like a movie that can’t help constantly telling you that it’s based on an important novel, but the bright blues of sea and sky are rendered vividly and the sense of exploring the globe is so attractive. Deborra-Lee Furness is terrific as an American girlfriend in one short sequence.
European Film Award Nominations: Best European Film; Best European Actress (Julie Delpy); Best European Supporting Actress (Barbara Sukowa)