It’s not even five minutes into the infidelity drama Cloud 9 when two senior citizens get naked and go at it. Get used to it: There are plenty of senior moments here, with old people fornicating, performing oral sex, masturbating and doing things you usually don’t see Grandma and Grandpa doing on camera.
Make no mistake: You’re not looking at Brad and Angelina. These people are wrinkly and sagging. Director Andreas Dresen doesn’t turn away from his aged actors. At one point, there’s a long, unbroken shot of his star checking out her naked body in a mirror. In fact, there are many long, silent moments in Cloud 9, and they all add up to one of the most honest representations of senior-citizen sex you’ll ever see onscreen.
But none of it is exploitative in this moving film about sixtysomething Inge (Ursula Werner) who’s having an affair with 76-year-old Karl (Horst Westphal). Complicating matters is Inge’s 30-year marriage to Werner (Horst Reberg), a likable guy who listens to records of train engines for fun. They even have a healthy sex life, going at it in the bathroom in one scene. But Inge, who mends clothes out of their apartment, falls hard for Karl, who drops off his pants to be sewed. “I long for him constantly,” she confides to her grown daughter.
Still, Inge breaks off her relationship with the probably widowed Karl over the phone while Werner plays with their grandchildren in the next room. But she’s uncontrollably drawn to Karl and hooks up with him on a Sunday afternoon while Werner is away visiting his adult son. Soon they’re making out in his parked car like a couple of teenagers. Inge clearly loves both men and is torn between them. “It just happened,” she sighs.
But there are repercussions. And questions. Should we give in to our impulses when we don’t have much time left, even if our decisions will hurt others? Cloud 9 doesn’t have the answers. It doesn’t preach either. “Perhaps I’m too old for this sort of thing,” Inge says. But this stirring film repeatedly proves that you’re never too old. –Michael Gallucci