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directed by: Doris Dörrie
produced by: Bernd Eichinger, Martin Moszkowicz
starring: Franka Potente, Joachim Król, Senta Berger, Gottfried John, Iris Berben, Anica Dobra, Maria Schrader, Uwe Ochsenknecht
feature, Dolby SR, based on the short stories "Bin ich schön?", published by Diogenes Verlag
Official closing film of the 1998 Venice Film Festival · Invited to the 1998 Toronto International Film Festival · Invited to the 15th Warsaw Film Festival in October 1999
Nominated for the German Film Award in Gold for best Film, 1999
Winner of the German Film Award in Gold (for best supporting Actress, Nina Petri), 1999
Winner of the Bavarian Film Award (for best Screenplay), 1999
On a hot afternoon somewhere in Spain the sun beats down on a desolate desert landscape, through which runs an abandoned highway. Linda (FRANKA POTENTE) stands on the edge of the road, in a thin summer dress. A handbag and a bottle of water are all she has with her. The sun burns. A car with German license plates pulls up and Werner (GUSTAV-PETER WOEHLER), an unattractive 40 year old German, offers Linda a lift. As he tries to start a conversation, Linda gives him a piece of paper which says, I am deaf and dumb and must rely on your help. Werner is touched; they drive on together. Suddenly Linda tosses her handbag in a high arch out of the car. "Are you crazy?" Werner says. Linda merely smiles . . .
In a nearby motel, Klaus (STEFFEN WINK) calls his ex-girlfriend Franziska (ANICA DOBRA) but she remains cool and unmoved. Klaus reminds her of the time they spent together there, when they were both deeply in love. He would like to convince her to return there once again. Franziska, far away in Munich, remains distant . . .
In the very same motel, Werner and Linda have checked into the room next-door. She watches TV. Suddenly Werner kicks off his shoes and pulls off his pants. He takes his belt in his hands and says to Linda, "Whip me!" While on the television Janis Joplin sings "Cry Baby" . . .
Franziska stands motionless in a Munich boutique, where she works selling cloths. Rita (IRIS BERBEN) enters the store. She falls in love with a Cashmere sweater. She tries to buy the sweater with a credit card. "We don’t accept credit cards." Rita’s heart skips a beat. Hopefully she can make it back with cash before the store closes and she hurries home. To her surprise, she finds her husband Fred (OLIVER NAEGELE) already waiting for her in the bedroom and wants to make love. "If I tell him no, he’ll mope around for days not speaking to me," says Rita to herself. So, she gives in without hesitation to coitus domesticus. As she succumbs to her husbands desires, Rita’s thoughts are possessed by the ever approaching closing time. Having just successfully completed a new diet, Rita runs through a Calorie Table in her mind. Bringing off the climax, she quickly dresses and manages to purchase the divine sweater on the very same night.
After closing the store, Franziska drives home through the pouring rain. The windshield is covered with so much water it is as if she were driving through a waterfall. She slows down and tries to pull over to the side of the road when suddenly she hears a terrible bang and the motor dies. Elke (MARIA SCHRADER), soaked through to the skin, appears and screams, "Have you lost your mind?" They sit together in the car while waiting for the police to arrive after the harmless accident. The rain thumps against the roof of the car. Suddenly Elke’s attention is taken by a large box, which has the words "Wedding Dresses by Henning - Munich" written on the top. It doesn’t take long until Elke is wearing Franziska’s wedding dress. She shares with Franziska of the tragic death of her fiancé, and that she sometimes calls her own phone number just to hear the sound of his voice on the answering machine. The story touches Franziska deeply . . .
At the same moment in Spain the broken hearted Klaus comes across Linda’s handbag in the desert. Leaving it behind, he meets an old man, who introduces himself as Juan (DIETMAR SCHOENHERR). He is carrying an urn, which contains his wife’s ashes. In a Spanish "Bodega" the two very different men come closer. Linda is there as well; she is playing on a gambling machine. Klaus and Linda see each other here for the first time, however Linda runs away when he calls her name.
Out in the street Linda gets in the car of Bodo (UWE OCHSENKNECHT) and they fly off together into the night. The two slowly enter into a conversation. Linda is not deaf and dumb after all, but merely uses the guise to protect herself. The two stop at a hotel and take separate rooms. Perhaps because Bodo is on the way to his wife Lucy in Seville. Linda knocks on Bodo’s door. He opens it and finds Linda standing there - she rests her head on his chest and starts to cry. They spend the rest of the night together. Linda begins the next day by telling him an incredible lie. As Bodo realizes what is happening he becomes angry. Enraged, he leaves her behind. Linda breaks down and cries . . .
In front of an airport in Spain, two young lovers, Vera (HEIKE MAKATSCH) and Felipe (JUAN DIEGO BOTTO), begin to take each other in the car, when they are brutally attacked by three youths. In the middle of the chaos, Felipe hits his head against the bumper, and then on the asphalt. He lies there unconscious. The three muggers panic and run out of sight. Vera is in shock, and remains there as if in a trance. Then Tamara (GISELA SCHNEEBERGER) appears. Wanting to help, she asks "What happened to him?" The two women begin to talk and wistfully Tamara recalls her flower-power hippie days and her broken marriage. Nonchalant, she concludes that eye drops have ruined her marriage. Vera understands . . .
2,000 kilometers to the north, in Munich: Robert (JOACHIM KROL) and his jealous wife Charlotte (NINA PETRI) are stuck in a traffic jam. It seems as if things aren’t going particularly well with their marriage at the moment--especially since Robert allowed himself a little affair in Trinidad. Their quarrel begins to escalate. Charlotte, unable to take it any longer, leaps out of the car. Robert runs after her, takes hold of her and won’t let her go. It looks as if they are enslaved by their daily routine . . .
Not far away from there, the suave Herbert (GOTTFRIED JOHN) hides the photo of his wife Unna and his two daughters Vera and Charlotte and turns on the answering machine. Herbert isn’t alone - his lover, the young student Jessica (ELISABETH ROMANO) is there too. While he is looking forward to a "simple affair," Jessica makes a short visit to the bathroom where she cuts her wrists. He happens to discover her by coincidence. In total shock, he drives Jessica to the emergency room. Then rushing back to his apartment, he is disgusted by the trail of blood, which leads from the bed, over the carpet to the hallway. In a matter of minutes, his wife Unna (SENTA BERGER) will be home. A disaster! Luckily, his daughter Charlotte appears. He begs her to help him. "Tuba Carpet Cleaner" works a genuine miracle and Unna finds her apartment and her husband just as she left them...
All come together at the wedding party of Franziska. Rita and Fred are caterers setting the tables and organizing the hors d’oeuvres. At the same time Franziska is preparing to marry Holger (MICHAEL KLEMM). If only he had different shoes . . .
As the party is in full swingVera arrives at her sister’s wedding. Robert uses the occasion to reconcile himself with Charlotte, who is all too ready to accept. But not everything is resolved. Unna has known for some time that her husband Herbert is having an affair.
Days later in Seville, Spain, preparations are being made for the famous Easter Procession during Holy Week. Herbert and Unna are there and so are Linda and Klaus, who have yet to meet up with each other again. Bodo, his wife Lucy and their children have also arrived. As Herbert falls asleep on the hotel bed, Unna goes in search of her old lover David (OTTO SANDER). Over 30 years ago, she had a deeply meaningful relationship with him in Seville. She finds his house and rings the doorbell. David answers. He looks in terrible shape, and he doesn’t recognize her. But then he invites Unna to a German style "coffee and cake." Slowly, very slowly, memories of that golden time return to David, who has never fully recovered from a stroke he suffered . . .
At the same moment at the Holy Week festivities, in the colorful movement of the Procession, Klaus and Linda meet again by coincidence, or by the hand of destiny. As he calls her name she seems rather surprised, but is at the same time happy. As the figure of the Holy Madonna is carried past, Linda rushes out in front of the Procession and cries out a song of praise. The next day, Linda and Klaus drive back to the spot where Linda threw out her handbag--it is still there. The circle closes.