Owen Gleiberman
March 24, 2000 AT 05:00 AM EST

Winter Sleepers

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
Unrated
runtime
124 minutes
performer
Ulrich Matthes
director
Tom Tykwer
distributor
Winstar Cinema
author
Anne-Francoise Pyszora
genre
Romance, Drama, Mystery and Thriller, Foreign Language

We gave it a C+

A year before he made ”Run Lola Run,” Tom Tykwer, the dazzling pop-metaphysical German stylist, directed ”Winter Sleepers,” a brooding, angst-ridden variation on some of the same themes of love, karma, and split-second destiny.

The movie is only now being released in the U.S. to capitalize on the success of ”Lola,” and you can see why no one was eager to distribute it before. It’s slow and pretentious, full of craggy Bavarian snowscapes and dour ”mystical” portents that seem to circle back to nothing but themselves.

Still, this scattershot spellbinder shows off Tykwer’s talent in every chilly, elliptical frame. Structured around a road accident, it’s like a meticulously photographed cross between ”The Sweet Hereafter” and ”Blow-Up,” with five attractive, quarrelsome characters creeping in and out of romantic intimacy as the audience pieces together their relationships to one another and to the fateful collision that ends up binding them all. The trouble is, the connections have no resonance outside of the arty atmospherics of puzzle-movie form. ”Winter Sleepers” isn’t boring, exactly, but it’s a beautiful, gloomy void.

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