American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
When I was much younger, I would meet experience an oh, no! feeling if I realized I was falling in love. It was a mixture of joy in the moment and dread of the usual complications that had, around the age of 19, tutored me that there was no such thing as living happily ever after -- usually, anyway. I suspect that feeling never entirely leaves us. Consider the German film "Cloud 9," with Inga (Ursula Werner), who is 67 and has been married with reasonable happiness for 30 years to Werner (Horst Rehberg), and finds herself knocking hopefully on the door of a 76-year-old man she hardly knows.
This is Karl (Horst Westphal), who had dropped off his pants to be altered. Inga is a seamstress, working on a sewing machine in her bedroom, living in a nice little apartment with Werner, who in the evenings likes to listen to recordings of steam engines arriving in train stations. His idea of a nice day out for the two of them is taking a train to no particular place while they look out the window.
Werner is not presented as a boring monster, because he isn't. Looking out a train window is often the occasion for dreamy reveries, and as I watched this film, I felt the desire, easily suppressed, to go to the Amtrak station and buy a ticket to no particular place. Werner helped Inga raise her family; her daughter Petra (Steffi Kuehnert) considers him her father, and they carry out a soothing ritual of drinking coffee and watching TV.
What came over Inga when she was measuring Karl for his pants? Why did she deliver them herself? Why did he invite her in, and why did they fall into each other's arms a moment later and find themselves losing their underwear so quickly? There's no accounting for such things. The French call it a coup de foudre, a lightning bolt to the heart.