Wrong Move (1975)

30 06 2008

Another great effort from Wenders. While it is not quite as fantastic as Kings of the Road, it is certainly in the same ballpark. The nice black and white cinematography is gone and replaced by a rather dull color scheme but it seems, at the very least, that Wenders’ heart is in the right place. Like Kings, this is a wonderful Antonioni-esque road movie. There’s more talking in this case, but its redeemed by a much less eventful narrative. Even though it would come two years later, I can’t help but think of this as something like Stroszek …on the road.

Wilheim, a quiet young man still living with his mother is eager to begin a career as a writer. His mother, always being supportive, buys him a train ticket to Bonn to live life, or perhaps simply provide some writing material. On the train, he meets a nose-bleeding ex-athlete, Laertes, and a teenage mute acrobat, Mignon. Mignon almost immediately takes a liking to Wilheim, but unfortunately, his interest lies with Therese, an actress. Therese and young poet named Bernard eventually join the gang as they confront their feelings on modern alienation, among other topics.

Though it is ultimately not the better film, this does have an even greater focus on loneliness than Kings of the Road. Yes, the characters talk in a flawless manner (not unlike In a Year of 13 Moons, actually) but they at least seem to have trouble completely comprehending their thoughts. In fact, this actually becomes a major topic in some of Wilheim’s conversations. The material is definitely heavy and ponderous, but it comes off naturally. One gets the sense that the characters themselves are coming up with their philosophical prose, as opposed to the filmmakers using them as mouthpieces. Its funny that even though this is not an outright “philosophical” film, it manages to touch upon subjects later expressed more fully in Tarkovsky’s Stalker, which oddly enough, has a very similar visual style.

It’s clearly a matter of taste, but alas, I am not particularly fond of that muddy 70s look, especially when it is quite obvious that Muller and Wenders could produce such fantastic results in black and white. The presence of Hanna Schygulla (her only collaboration with Wenders) may negate these problems. Just like in her earliest Fassbinder role, she has a wonderfully cold detached sensibility. Fitting considering the appearance of a Straub / Huillet film on TV later in the film. Nastassja Kinski is even better and seems like someone out of a Leos Carax film. I suppose this can be dismissed on the account that her character is a mute but that only makes her all the more captivating. She is the perfect neutralizing element for a film that is fairly dry and talky but somehow spontaneous.

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