"Sleepless in Seattle" meets "You've Got Mail" in this sleek remake of the 1997 South Korean film, "The Contact," a major hit in its home territory which helped to kickstart the current industry revival there. Tale of a couple of loners destined for one another whose paths finally come together at fadeout is predictable but easy to take.

“Sleepless in Seattle” meets “You’ve Got Mail” in this sleek remake of the 1997 South Korean film, “The Contact,” a major hit in its home territory which helped to kickstart the current industry revival there. Tale of a couple of loners destined for one another whose paths finally come together at fadeout is predictable but easy to take, enhanced by good performances and beautifully designed images. It’s solid TV fodder for quality networks.

Gregor Reuther (Ben Becker) is a radio DJ still pining after the girl he loved and lost when they were in a band together; she’s now famous, her poster seen all over town. He occasionally spends the night with Lily (Catrin Striebeck), his colleague at the radio station, but they both know it’s more from desperation than genuine attraction.

Meanwhile, Mai Winter (Isabella Parkinson) is hopelessly in love with Nick (Nicolas von Wacherbarth), the boyfriend of her flatmate, Anne (Nele Muller-Stofen).

One evening, Gregor is playing a song that meant a lot to him and his ex-girl, and Mai is listening on her car radio when the car in front of her rolls over and she narrowly avoids a fatal accident. From then on, the song haunts her, too.

She begins to communicate by e-mail with Gregor, using the name “Frau2″ (he is “HappyEnd”). At first she pretends she’s a friend of his ex-girl, about whom he’s talked on the radio, and he becomes intrigued; later, she admits she made up the story.

On several occasions, these two almost meet. But Mai is waylaid by her hopeless love for Nick, while Gregor is distracted by the illness afflicting a little boy he has befriended. All ends well, of course, to the strains of Tim Hardin’s “How Can We Hang on to a Dream?.”

Writer-director Edward Berger, in collaboration with d.p. Gero Steffen, has taken great pains to design the film in a series of striking images, with the widescreen used to great effect. Though several attractive songs pepper the soundtrack, the music score (by Enrico Fabio Cortese) is the film’s weakest element, being at times unbearably lush and sentimental.

Becker brings his usual rugged charisma to the role of the lovesick Gregor, while Parkinson is sweet as the determined Mai.

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Germany

Production

A Bavaria Film release of a Box! Film/ StudioCanal/Studio Babelsberg Independents production. (International sales: Bavaria Film Intl., Munich.) Produced by Andreas Eicher, Philipp Homberg. Executive producer, Tom Sternitzke. Directed, written by Edward Berger, based on the 1997 South Korean film "The Contact" (Jeobsok), directed by Chang Yoon-hyun, written by Jo Myeong-ju, Chang, Kim Euk-jeong.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Gero Steffen; editor, Sabine Krayenbuhl; music, Enrico Fabio Cortese; production designer, Gabriele Wolff; costume designer, Tina Kloempken; sound (Dolby), Andreas Mucke-Niesytka; assistant director, Steffen Reuter; casting, Simone Bar. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (New German Films), Feb. 10, 2001. Running time: 96 MIN.

With

Gregor Reuther - Ben Becker Mai Winter - Isabella Parkinson Lily Hartmann - Catrin Striebeck Nick - Nicolas von Wacherbarth Anne - Nele Muller-Stofen Arndt - Stefan Kurt Theo - Michael Gwisdek Vera - Eva Kryll Phillip - Sergei Moya

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