Starring Elmar Wepper and Hannelore Elsner. In German and Japanese with English subtitles. Rated 14A. Plays Friday to Wednesday, April 10 to 15, Friday, April 17, and Sunday and Monday, April 19 and 20, at the Vancity Theatre
A quarter-century ago, writer-director Doris Dí¶rrie made Men, proving that the words German comedy were not oxymoronic. She has since made softer stuff, and in Cherry Blossoms she ties together a number of themes that, when not overstaying their welcome at more than two hours, manage to resonate on deeper levels.
Watch the trailer for Cherry Blossoms.
The plot here initially offers a weisswurst-scented version of several tales by Japanese filmmaker and writer Yasujiro Ozu—especially that of 1953’s Tokyo Story, in which elderly parents try to reconnect with preoccupied children while attempting a rare vacation. These old folks here are Rudi and Trudi Angermeier, a barrel-shaped Bavarian and retiring civil servant (Elmar Wepper) and his wife (Hannelore Elsner), who nurses a private love of Japanese art and dance.
Upon visiting various offspring and their partners in Berlin, they realize that no one is ready to take care of them in their decline—something that becomes crucial when Trudi suddenly gets ill and Rudi undertakes a journey she had wanted to make. When he treks all the way to Tokyo, it’s ostensibly to visit absent son Karl (Maximilian Brí¼ckner), who is none too pleased to see stern papa all alone.
Like so many older men, Rudi hasn’t really tested what he’s capable of doing on his own, but daytime wanderings in the big city lead to unexpected discoveries. The most important involve encounters with a young butoh dancer (Aya Irizuki), whose white face powder and mimed, fawnlike movements bring out Rudi’s poetic side and underline the genuine connections with his beloved wife. Is it all a bit precious and far-fetched? Sure, but so, the filmmaker is saying, is life.