"Lulu and Jimi" pits an African-American carnival worker and a white, well-scrubbed German woman against the violent racism of mid-'50s small-town Deutschland.
Too reminiscent of “Wild at Heart” to qualify as original, and too unpleasantly contrived in any case, “Lulu and Jimi” pits an African-American carnival worker and a white, well-scrubbed German woman against the violent racism of mid-’50s small-town Deutschland. Candy-colored mise-en-scene, retro musical sequences and bizarro supporting characters lend a hint of Baz Luhrmann to the mix, but writer-director Oskar Roehler’s increasingly dark, even grotesque turns owe more to late-’80s David Lynch. Slipshod dubbing of French actress Jennifer Decker’s dialogue into squeaky-sounding English would register as unfortunate if the film — inexplicably tapped to compete Sundance — weren’t already lost in translation.
Lulu (Decker) and Jimi (Ray Fearon) meet cute in a bumper-car attraction, then hit the real road — first for joyriding courtship purposes and then to elude Lulu’s disapproving family members, including garishly costumed mother Gertrud (Katrin Sass) and hired goons. Udo Kier camps it up as Gertrud’s randy chauffeur, but has too little to do while Roehler is busy splashing primary colors, red not least, in the final two reels. Production design fits the bill; chemistry between the leads remains nonexistent.