Faraway, So Close

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +1 1/2

Content: -2

Cassiel (Otto Sander) and Raphaela (Natassia Kinski) are two angels assigned to be messengers in Berlin. Their task to instill love into the city's residents has become difficult as men's minds are increasingly blinded by lies and images. In desperation, the pony-tailed Cassiel wishes he could become a human so he can better understand the mind and emotions of mankind. When his wish is granted, he discovers that being human presents a whole new set of complications. A few humans, who possess the ability to discern angels, assist Cassiel with his search to find meaning within the human realm. The question rings out throughout the film, "Why can't I be good?" As a man, Cassiel is now subject to the effects of original sin. FARAWAY, SO CLOSE is billed as a humorous allegory about the reunification of Germany. It is a love-hate relationship as the film flip-flops between brilliance and boredom. Bogged down in confusion with enough main characters and subplots to fill three films, this German film's English subtitles and complexity leave the viewer unmoved.

Once Cassiel becomes human, he encounters the depths of man's depravity. Falling prey to men's fascination with gambling, he promptly loses all his money and ends up living as a drunk on the streets. Eventually he obtains a job as a personal assistant to an exporter of pornography. There are a few brief displays of pornographic pictures on screen during this sequence. But Cassiel is disgusted and destroys the building where the pornographic material is stored. Obscenities are also used as another sign of the depravity of man's existence. Cassiel's attempts to "do good" are cut short when he is brutally shot to death on screen. Filmmaker Wenders' use of angels is neither distinctly theistic nor New Age. He never explicitly clarifies for whom these angels act as messengers. FARAWAY, SO CLOSE manages a degree of success in its statements about the futility of man apart from the supernatural. However, the solutions it presents for man's sin problem are vague.

Preview Reviewer: Krista Kay Bontrager
Sony Classics, 711 5th Ave., NY, NY 10022

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Several (5) times - Mild 4; Moderate 1

Obscene Language: Many (14) times (s-word 10; f-word 3, other 1)

Profanity: Few (3) times - Regular

Violence: 2 murders (1 multiple shots on screen); property damage (building and porn films destroyed)

Sex: None

Nudity: Pornographic pictures

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Several times (revealing woman's clothing, references to pornography and naked women)

Drugs: Social drinking, chronic drunkenness, smoking

Other: Gambling (negative effects)

Running Time:
Intended Audience: Adults

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