Autopilots

Like a sports car on cinderblocks, "Autopilots" looks sleek without going anywhere. First-time writer-helmer Bastian Guenther creates an airless, heavy atmosphere that never allows for the mischievousness of coincidence in this criss-crosser involving four strangers who use the motorways in Germany's Ruhr region.

With:
With: Charly Huebner, Wolfram Koch, Walter Kreye, Manfred Zapatka, Susanne-Marie Wrage, Carlotte Bohning.

Like a sports car on cinderblocks, “Autopilots” looks sleek without going anywhere. First-time writer-helmer Bastian Guenther creates an airless, heavy atmosphere that never allows for the mischievousness of coincidence in this criss-crosser involving four strangers who use the motorways in Germany’s Ruhr region. Results feel too much like Robert Altman lite to make inroads anywhere except with undemanding cablers.

Joerg (Charly Huebner) is traveling salesman who harbors A Secret; Dieter (Wolfram Koch) is a freelance photog increasingly estranged from his son; Georg (Walter Kreye) is a football coach who needs to win the big match; Heinz (Manfred Zapatka) is the suave yet over-the-hill practitioner of disposable pop songs who picks up Dieter’s ex, Rita (Susanne-Marie Wrage), at a shopping mall; Kathrin (Carlotte Bohning) is the younger woman with whom Georg dallies. And so on. When thesps of this caliber can’t get traction with their characters, the culprit’s usually a schematic script. Huebner, the dimwitted assistant in “The Lives of Others,” comes off best in the pic’s most involving strand. Tech credits are vid-bright crisp.

Autopilots

Germany

Production: A Lichtblick Film, SWR, Arte, Filmstiftung NRW production. Produced by Martin Heisler, Joachim Ortmanns. Directed, written by Bastian Guenther.

Crew: Camera (color, DigiBeta), Michael Kotschi; editor, Olaf Tischbier; music, Andreas Doerne, Jens Hafemann, Bernd Bergemann; production designer, Dorothee von Bodelschwingh; costume designer, Almut Stier; assistant director, Vera Schmidt. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Perspektive Deutsches Kino), Feb. 10, 2007. Original title: Autopiloten. Running time: 106 MIN.

With: With: Charly Huebner, Wolfram Koch, Walter Kreye, Manfred Zapatka, Susanne-Marie Wrage, Carlotte Bohning.

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