A young woman and a young man in Paris in love, but still searching – isn’t this a subject well worn out? Yes, this is surely true, but not in cinemas! A good director takes overused locations and subjects to show new aspects. Just like Arne Körner. He shows a cinema love story differently. His intentions are most visible when one acoustically can’t understand the dialog between his main characters (a car passes by very noisily) or both are quiet for minutes during a dispute. Neither the noise nor the silence disturbs Körner’s appeals to the eyes. Even tiniest gestures by the artists show something at all times, convert the screen into a landscape full of passions, contradictions, questions, doubts. When the couple wanders through Paris searching for orientation nothing comes up as being staged. Instead it becomes obvious that during the shooting the artists did not know exactly what to expect. This resulted in situations no script can plan. Well mounted these situations generate a particular especially not stagy intensity. »The Bicycle« is a film with room for spontaneity like street theatre with a direct link to the reality of Paris. »There is the Paris in France, the Paris from Paramount, from MGM and from Columbia, I prefer the MGM version«; a sentence by director Billy Wilder about the fascination of artificial cinema worlds. However in the sixties there was change in the air, there was the Paris of Jacques Rivette, Eric Rohmer and Jean-Luc Godard. When Jean Seberg and Jean-Paul Belmondo in »Breathless« not in sterile studios but instead in real Paris streets starred this became an eye opener for the public. All of a sudden the conventional film looked old and bland. »The Bicycle« contains some reverberations of this era. Here too the production does not constantly tell the viewer what to think, but instead to look. Welcome in Arne Körner’s Paris.
This film is a great experience. From the beginning you will be drawn into two worlds, the colourful one in Paris and parallel into the clinically clean and cold world of the bicycle tour from Hamburg to Paris. In an inviting way your reception will be activated. The spectator opens up and makes up his own mind of what he is seeing. This means he becomes a co-worker of the film for the success of the projection. The nice sentence “A film only materializes when shown in the cinema“ is really fitting. When describing this film as a road movie it will become obvious when watching that this is a ride into once inside; a recollection of the lively and fun loving Paris which becomes for the introverted hero (Akin Sipal) more and more an excessive demand and burden, 2 in hind side even a trauma. He cannot open up despite the constant attempts by his extroverted girlfriend (Carly May Borgstrom) trying to pull him out of his isolation. The observer who cannot do any other but to open up for the film is in a better position. It is exciting throughout the film to witness – even to share the excitement – how during summer in the teeming streets of Paris the love story of the protagonists may end; sometimes full of hope, sometimes full of bad feelings. The film plays out in full length in the street. By no means is it a German film affair retreating into a studio. Also no dramaturgically safe sentences are spoken but with the street noise the mouth is opened. No one will get the idea that “The Bicycle” is a documentary, that’s what I claim. Both artists are far too present. We get too near. We, the viewers stay with them. As a conclusion, Arne Körner, producer and screenwriter has made with his first motion picture a novel cinema experience, one that addresses heart and soul.
A long-distance relationship that should find it’s happiness in Paris. Two people in love but who hardly know each other. This is the initial situation in „The Bicycle“. This is little kown to the audience when seeing this film the first time. Arne Körner does not do us the favour to explain what the story is all about. Instead he shows a road movie in progress; two people lonely while being together are trying to make the best out of their shared time. And are gloriously failing. „The Bicycle“ is a bit like „Before Sunrise“ but without portentous dialogs. A travel documentation without defined goal. After 45 minutes a discussion, after an hour and a quarter a dispute and at the end a burning bicycle. This must be enough to understand the dynamic of a terrifically failing relationship. „The Bicycle“ is a marvelous antidote to all the target oriented love stories that cinemas like to show. Nothing will be explained but a lot will be understood and a happy end is not an option. This way you don’t make block busters but good films. For people with endurance who have learned something at the end without having been made aware of with raised index finger.
Going in Hamburg.-St. Pauli to the movies, I encounter this guy who starts hitting the bird in the first row who has blocked all good seats for her friends who are not even there yet. I get to sit next to the guy who turns out to be a young producer. A few days later I get my private screening and I am really excited: As casually brusque as Arne Körner is is his film. Seldom the end of a love story is shown as laconically sentimental as in “The Bicycle“. The start: Mark, a young man, pedals with his bicycle from Hamburg to Paris to meet Antonia from Canada during the summer. He recalls mostly odd episodes… Comments: We the observers neither get to see Nouvelle Vague nor Hollywood, just a tiny Independent film from Germany. The city of love is as pretty as always but especially a stereotype. What Mark and Antonia once found interesting off each other is no more since some time; from now on its separation only. Finally it is a sad film but without any tears. Playfully, very live and absolutely fresh scenes are linked by producer and author Arne Körner and it shows again and again the hidden wit. Körner is without any doubt from Northern Germany. By setting the tone on maximal he stems against all usual romantic narrative templates. Paris is a noisy and glaring city; here fondness seems misplaced. In fact one wants Mark and Antonia to be like their cinema examples Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg in “Breathless“ or Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in “Before Sunset“. But no, this is the next millennium and every one can be full of faults as much as they want. Mark and Antonia communicate in English; he even speaks a view words in French and she knows a some German words. But there is no common language. The misunderstandings and disappointments accumulate until nothing works any longer. This is a great pity but at the same time very amusing. Being more recalcitrant and doing things wrong as Mark does is hardly possible. Never the less the young whippersnapper has no feeling for what he is doing wrong. “The Bicycle” is not the typical Date Movie but if so she has as much fun as he has. PS: I could talk endlessly about the wonderful artists; especially about the great Akin Sipal with his original Hamburg gob, about unmasking talks („I like women that don’t make any stress.“) or the unobtrusive poetry of the film (the sound of the bicycle spokes!). Everyone should get his own idea of the film. “The Bicycle“ is THE German Anti-Romance – so true, it is hurting but at the same time so funny thereby not sliding into cynicisms. “The Bicycle“ must be shown at the movies immediately!