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Bagdad Cafe

Posted by martinteller on May 20, 2012

A German couple is apparently on holiday, having some marital difficulties in the California desert.  The woman (Marianne Sägebrecht) grabs her suitcase and storms off, planting herself at a tiny diner/motel in the middle of nowhere.  The proprietor (CCH Pounder) has just had her husband walk out on her, and judges the strange new arrival with suspicion.  This is the first film I’ve seen by German director Percy Adlon, a kind of culture clash/character study/unlikely friendship flick.  The mid-to-late 80’s were a fertile period for this sort of quirky indie.  I don’t think this needed to be as quirky as it is… which isn’t to say it’s outrageously quirky or anything, but I felt that many of the oddball touches and idiosyncrasies were more distracting than interesting.

Still, it does have a certain charm to it.  Sägebrecht is a marvelous presence… hard to say if she’s a terrific actress, but she does kind of have an aura to her.  I’d like to see more of her work.  As for Pounder, her constant state of annoyance and anger in the first two acts get wearisome, but I’ve always liked her and the turn her character takes is worth it (although a little too sudden).  The relationship between the two is compelling and even moving.  Jack Palance is not put to very good use, but he’s fun to see.  The supporting cast is pleasant, if not a particularly good bunch of actors.  And the cinematography is often quite lovely.  I don’t really have a strong opinion about this movie.  It doesn’t seem like there’s much to it, yet it does contain some wonderful little moments.  Rating: Fair


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