is a German tearjerker in the best sense of the word. It’s a slow and meditative piece on life and finding yourself in the midst of personal chaos, yet it’s never boring. The story of a widower learning to deal with the unexpected departure of his wife is a sad one, but
also manages to squeeze in some laughs to lighten the mood. A strong response from critics is not unexpected but the film’s small distributor will have their work cut out for them trying to make a dent at the box office.
Trudi (Hannelore Elsner) and Rudi (Elmar Wepper) have a strong and fruitful marriage together, apart from also sharing rhyming names. Their sweet and colorful introduction is cut short early in the film when Rudi is found terminally ill by his doctor—but with a twist. The doctor doesn’t believe Rudi can handle such strong news and entrusts Trudi to break it to her husband gently when she feels the time is right. This turn of events ends up being the perfect excuse for the couple to take a trip to Japan to visit their son Karl and Mt. Fuji, a place Trudi has been anxious to see and Rudi could care less about.
Rudi’s favorite hobbies are eating and complaining and he does a lot of both on the train ride to Berlin, their first stop on their fateful trip to Japan. He can’t seem to stop eating for the first half of the film, whether it’s junk food or apples. Ironically his daily intake of at least one apple a day is followed with him belting out the well-known phrase “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Trudi’s eyes convey a sense of sadness when she hears her husband say this, as if to convey the realization that no matter how well you may care for yourself you can’t escape your fate.
Shortly after the couple makes a pit stop in Berlin to visit their other children, tragedy strikes. Trudi unexpectedly passes away in her sleep without relaying the bad news to her husband; a tricky turn of events that offers us a different view of Rudi. Without knowing his condition Rudi feels confident enough to continue the journey to Japan and meet up with Karl to give him the sad news in person and mourn his wife in Mt. Fuji the way she would’ve wanted.
Writer-director Doris Doerrie has crafted an emotional and adult journey with Cherry Blossoms. It’s the kind of film that slowly creeps up on you and earns your emotions instead of tricking you with manipulative conventions. Both German leads Wepper and Elsner are a strong pairing and lead to an even stronger emotional payoff by the film’s end.
Distributor: Strand Releasing
Cast: Elmar Wepper, Hannelore Elsner, Nadja Uhl and Maximillian Brueckner
Director/Screenwriter: Doris Doerrie
Producers: Molly von Fuerstenberg and Harald Kuegler
Genre: Drama; German- and Japanese-language, subtitled
Running time: 127 min.
Release date: January 16 ltd.