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Summer Window

Year: 2011
Production Co: Zentropa International
Director: Hendrik Handloegten
Writer: Hendrik Handloegten
Cast: Nina Hoss, Mark Waschke

This quite cool little sci-fi romance might remind you of The Time Traveler's Wife, but being a European film it's not so schmaltzy. On the downside it's also a bit impenetrable – more on that later.

Juliane (Nina Hoss) is happy. She has a great job, good friends and a new relationship with the handsome August (Mark Waschke). But something weird happens when they go to bed in a cabin in an idyllic forest on a summer holiday, The next day Juliane wakes up at the apartment she used to live at, in the middle of winter, still in an unhappy relationship with the man she broke up with months earlier, Phillip (Lars Eldinger).

The finer details aren't as memorable as the premise (which is also a bit more exciting than the execution), but the time travel aspect is never explained – it's just a narrative device to ask the question of whether everything is pre-ordained or whether you can change your fate.

Juliane loses interest in everything besides finding the man she believes she'll be in love with six months hence, reconnecting with him and hoping to get back to how happy they were even though he has no idea who she is.

It also seems to have something to do with her father, who took her on fun trips to the country as a girl but then disappeared. Every time she starts to think about or talk about him, she mysteriously slips through time again. Is her condition some sort of genetic problem she inherited from him?

Along with many other questions it's never answered, but Juliane thinks she can grasp a new lease on life when she tells her single mother best friend's son about her situation in cryptic terms while babysitting him, and he asks why she can't just change things.

Juliane starts to do so, but when her actions cause the accidental death of her friend, the race is on to put things right, break away from the man she's with and convince the man she loves she's the one for him.

Like many European films there's not a lot of emotional turmoil in the script or the performances – maybe that's why some of the details in the story are hard to grasp and recall. We of course shouldn't want every film to be so obvious, but when there's a narrative backbone to the proceedings, you want the action on screen to service it visibly enough to see.

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