Grafting a fairy tale onto a realistic framework is fraught with risk, and Lars Buchel’s “Peas at 5:30” demonstrates why. More ambitious than his larky “Now or Never,” Buchel’s latest shows two blind people going to great lengths to move from alienation to love, via some extremely far-fetched adventures. Auds will be divided among those willing to accept script’s leaps of logic and skeptics sensing an empty if extremely fine-looking romance. Still, pic garnered good 2004 commercial runs in German-lingo territories.
Intriguingly, “Peas” upsets the usual pattern in comic-leaning films with its moody beginning. Pic then turns more jocular with each unlikely story shift.
Gorgeous opening sequence shows Icelandic-born, Hamburg-based theater director Jakob Magnusson (Hilmir Snaer Gudnason of “101 Reykjavik”). The radical legit helmer leaves work on a rainy night and accidentally drives his car into a river.He is next seen with rehabilitation teacher Lilly (Fritzi Haberlandt), who is blind, diving into a pool.
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Although the accident left him blind, Jakob plows ahead with a premiere of his “Midsummer Night’s Dream” staging. Then, however, learning that his mother (Jenny Grollmann) is dying of cancer at a remote beachside house in northwest Russia, Jakob, after a rather goofy suicide attempt, starts out to visit his mother. Lilly follows him onto a train although he tries to ditch her.
They end up together, and, once the pair is traveling and literally wandering around blind, “Peas at 5:30” becomes an uncertain fantasy of the heart, blithely expecting viewers to accept each and every impossible point in a truly left-field road movie.
Buchel’s weakness for cute diversions soon takes over, ranging from Lilly’s mother (Tina Engel) and b.f. Paul (Harald Schrott) chasing Lilly and Jakob all the way to Russia, to Lilly’s teen sister Alex (Alice Dwyer) having sex with her new guy while all the adults are away.
By the time Jakob stumbles into his mother’s retreat, it’s astounding to consider how far pic has gone — and how off the charts — from its initial poetic and human passages.
Amidst endless amounts of rain, the charming Haberlandt and moody Gudnason mix and clash in the latest variation on the Gable-Lombard formula, which lenser Judith Kaufmann captures in glorious widescreen images that seem ironically designed to heighten one’s sense of sight.
For what ends up being a rather silly movie, the score by Max Berghaus, Dirk Reichardt and Stefan Hansen surges with grandeur.