Cherry Blossoms (DVD Review)1 May, 2009 By: Billy Gil
Prebook 5/7/09; Street 6/16/09
Box Office $0.09 million
To fault Doris Dörrie’s Cherry Blossoms for being overly long and overreaching — which it is — is to miss what this extraordinary film has to offer.
Trudi (Hannelore Elsner) forces her reticent but dutiful husband, Rudi (Elmar Wepper), to visit their children in Berlin when she finds out he doesn’t have much time left to live. Though fond of their parents, and of Trudi especially, the fully grown children don’t have much time for the elderly couple.
Circumstances send Rudi packing to visit the couple’s favored son in Tokyo. Trudi has always had a fascination with the country. The thing is, Rudi lives in a world of routine: the same sandwich and apple every day, working long hours and coming home to his wife. Their son, working weekends in Tokyo, is similarly cut off. But Tokyo awakens Rudi. He asks a young Butoh dancer in a Tokyo park to show him how the dance is done, in hopes of bringing him closer to his wife.
The metaphor of cherry blossoms plays strongly in the film — they’re blooming in Japan, and only do so for a short time, indicating the impermanence of life. They parallel the story, in that no one in this family seems to really know each other; it takes death for any of these people to really face one another.
Dorrie’s assured direction takes viewers through the oppressive noise of the city and silence of the country, on the backs of the brilliant, restrained performances of Elsner and Wepper, to show that you can’t let family, friends, lovers or even strangers in the park slip by without ever really knowing them and letting them know you.