Thursday, 23 March 2017

Cloud Nine (3 Stars)

I find this film very depressing. Maybe I'm in the minority. Other critics praise the film's positive, uplifting messages. When the film was shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008 it was given a ten minute standing ovation. I can understand that people like it because it's an original film, dealing with a taboo topic: sex between old people.

Werner and Inge are an elderly couple who live in Berlin. Inge is 69, Werner is 72. They've been married for more than 30 years. Inge has a part time job sewing clothes, whereas Werner devotes his spare time to his hobby: trains. It's a strange hobby that his wife doesn't share with him. He listens to recordings of trains pulling into stations. Why he would want to listen to recordings of trains is unfathomable, because a busy train line runs past their back door. I tried to locate the house, based on clues in the film. I can't be certain, but it has to be either in Pankow or Prenzlauer Berg, both areas in the former eastern zone of Berlin.

Inge falls in love with Karl, one of her customers. He's 76, older than her husband, but slightly fitter because he cycles a lot. The word "love" is stretching the description of their relationship. It's pure lust. The two have almost nothing in common, she just visits him to have sex. She confesses the affair to her daughter and talks about having butterflies in her stomach, but it's not romantic, it's just the feelings of physical desire in her.

Inge doesn't want to leave her husband. She still cares for him, but she wants the excitement of a sexual relationship with another man. Is she totally stupid? Doesn't she realise what she's giving up? It's not like her husband is mistreating her in any way. From the beginning of the film we see him treating his wife affectionately.

Even though the word isn't used in the film, it's about polyamory. The word has different definitions. Two conflicting definitions are:

1. the practice of engaging in multiple sexual relationships with the consent of all the people involved.

2. the state or practice of having more than one open romantic relationship at a time.

I've spoken to people who consider themselves polyamorous, and they always use the second definition. "I have too much love to give it all to one person". They're lying to themselves and to others. What they really mean is "I don't have enough love to dedicate myself to one person". If they stuck to the first definition there wouldn't be a problem.

Polyamory is always about sex. Sex feels good, we all know that. A person might not be prepared to settle down, so he or she can have multiple sexual partners for pleasure. I don't judge that. If his partners are happy with the situation it's okay. What isn't okay is to claim that he loves everyone he sleeps with. He's degrading the word Love.

If a man and a woman love one another they'll be faithful. I have been in many relationships in my life, some more serious than others, and I was always faithful. Sometimes I felt tempted, even during my serious relationships, but I loved my partner too much to risk my relationship for sexual pleasure. After 30 years of marriage Inge should have known better.

"Cloud Nine" is praised for showing that an old woman can enjoy sex just as much as a teenager. I criticise it for showing that an old woman can be as stupid as a teenager.

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