Out of Rosenheim (Bagdad Café) is a look into the lives (and minds) of some people we all have encountered, but few of us ever get to know. This film (a ‘fish out odd water’-type tale) shows how one person can affect a disparate community. The Adlons express the view that change and “magic” comes from hard work and mutual understanding/acceptance. A well-crafted view of the lives of people everywhere and the difficulties we all can face. A whimsical story, lovingly shot by people who – unfamiliar with what others too often ignore give this arid area – the bleak, and arrid South West, an almost fairytale-like beauty.
This movie is a gem.
Bagdad Café is an atypical feel-good film with a great deal to say about human relationships and the impact one person can have on others. The offbeat characters who have virtually no past history-and none is needed-interact naturally and wonderfully. The viewer finds out all he needs to know when it’s time for him to know it. The temptation to present these individuals as misfits has been avoided; instead, this odd group is portrayed as a microcosm of society as a whole. Their ultimate transformation is effected smoothly and believably, except for a jarring `musical’ sequence near the end, which appears as an attempt to tie up loose ends. Symbols abound-the magic kit functioning as a metaphor for the changes effected by Jasmin, the unlikely protagonist of this story. The boomerang suggests that what one puts forth emotionally comes back to them. Many visual clues serve to connect the `incidents’-the coffee maker, the painting in the motel room, the box of magic tricks, a finger tracing dirt on the desk in Brenda’s `office’. This is a film that is better on the second and the third viewing, when the directorial skills of Percy Adlon become more evident. He achieves a remarkable non-judgmental attitude in a nearly plotless story. Marianne Sägebrecht is superb as Jasmin; Jack Palance gives a wonderful performance as a retired Hollywood set-painter whose lust for Sägebrecht constantly boils humorously below the surface. CCH Pounder, as Brenda, holds back just enough in her performance to make her transformation unquestioned and acceptable. This is not a film of sex or violence; it is, instead, a film about people we might have encountered, the nature of being human, and the pleasures of being alive.