The Cloud

The Cloud


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Straddling genres is a tough trick to pull off, but The Cloud - which has one foot in the high school romance camp and the other in a post-nuclear accident drama - bridges the gap remarkably well.

Hannah (Paula Kalenberg) is a regular teenager, going to school, having crushes on boys and helping her single mum (Carina N Wiese) out with a bit of babysitting for her little bro Uli (Hans-Laurin Beyerling). Their existence isn't idyllic, but it is utterly normal - and this is what makes Gregor Schnitzler's drama so compelling. Hannah's pal Meike (Jennifer Ulrich) is on more of a fast-track to trouble, so, for example, when the class geek Elmar (Franz Dinda) invites them round to study, she views it as an opportunity to get out the party gear. Elmar lives in a very big house on the edge of town, wealthy but in much less of a happy place with mum and dad than Hannah.

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This film is aimed, primarily, at a teen audience so, inevitably, romance soon blossoms between Hannah and Elmar but almost before the saliva on their first kiss is dry the town alarm rings out warning them of an accident at the nuclear power plant a few towns away. Hannah's mum is in the city on business, leaving Hannah in soul charge of getting Uli to safety - easier said than done, since their sleepy neighbourhood goes nuts at the news that if they don't get out soon they'll be glowing in the dark. Elmar wants to help them to safety but complications ensue. That nuclear nasty stuff is soon in town and infection is imminent. What follows is a curious combination of it-could-be-doomed or love-may-yet-conquer-all romance and a serious study of radiation sickness.

Schnitzler's direction is never dull. He uses the wind blowing up the leaves on the street to good effect, helping to crystalise the idea of the invisible threat to Hannah, Uli and Elmar. By the time the 'bad rain' comes, you care deeply about what happens to them. This is due in no small part to the well-rounded characters created by Gudrun Pasewang - who wrote the novel on which the film is based - that are fleshed out so well Marco Kreutzpaintner's screenplay. Kalenberg and Dinda also put in riveting performances as young loves who are victims of tragic circumstance.

Not everything about the film works. Despite much of the subject matter being serious, the music is fresh out of Hollyoaks and breaks the tension unecessarily at times. Schnitzler's poetic license is also fully paid up, since several of the scenes seem cut straight from a pop video, rather than a serious drama. Perhaps the most glaring of these comes after Hannah is swept into a train station by a crush of humanity, desperate to flee - one of the most accomplished segments of the film - yet moments later, when she steps back into the main street, she is totally alone, except for the leaves at her feet.

Despite these minor niggles, however, the film has plenty to say. The sort of movie that would be a great jumping off point for class discussions in senior schools, it offers food for thought regarding the question of nuclear threat and also has something to say about how quickly society moves to ostracise those who look different. Although the idea love can overcome great boundaries may sound a little trite, this film is keen to show that those boundaries can be big and many. More importantly, it asks questions of the viewer and, for the most part, offers no easy answers.

Reviewed on: 09 Jul 2007
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A girl tries to take her brother to safety after an accident at a nuclear power plant.

Director: Gregor Schnitzler

Writer: Marco Kreuzpaintner, Jane Ainscough, based on the novel by Gudrun Pausewang

Starring: Paula Kalenberg, Franz Dinda, Hans-Laurin Beyerling, Carina N. Wiese, Jennifer Ulrich, Claire Oelkers, Tom Wlaschiha, Karl Kranzkowski, Josefine Merkatz, Nikita Kuhlen, Richy Müller

Year: 2006

Runtime: 98 minutes

Country: Germany


CFF 2007

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