Pedaled at the love
“The Bicycle“ is Arne Körner’s first motion picture about a young couple, Paris and a bicycle. Opening night in Hamburg is at Metropolis on 1st. May 2016
BREMEN taz | No, this is not a road or cycling film. In a few days when showing his film at the 4th Nuremberg Bicycle Film Festival there could easily be jeers from bicycle film enthusiasts. This could be even so the film promises a long cinematic bicycle tour: Following a relationship that broke up in Paris young Mark from Hamburg rides the bike once again, a present from his ex girlfriend Antonia, from one metropolis to the other.
Originally this trip should have been at centre stage in the film. Actually co-author and main actor Akin Sipal got a bike from a former girl friend some years ago. He really hates cycling. Therefore for him this symbolises all that went wrong in his relationship. And this is the bicycle he rides in the film. But then the film turned out completely different. The slow failure of the relationship that was planned as a story in the back ground migrated more and more into the foreground.
There are film sequences from the ride as when Akin Sipal passes by a field in northern Germany, at border crossings devoid of people or in a French provincial town. One never gets the impression that he really worked hard along the long ride. Instead he rides aimlessly around with a backpack that seems to be too small even for rain clothes.
His dislike of riding a bicycle becomes quite obvious. He never has a flat tire and nothing interesting happens during the ride. The ride is just a gesture and Arne Körner was that clever to recognise it and limit the bicycle to a minimum. However there is an interlude when Sipal rides across the screen with rhythmically arranged bicycle sounds. The by far longest part of the film consists of two young people arguing in Paris.
At this level “The Bicycle“ can convince. Körner works in a very free form reminding of the films of Nouvelle Vague. And this even so Körner claims to have seen only one film from Eric Rohmer but rather being inspired by films from Roland Klick and his professor Wim Wenders at Hamburger Hochschule für Bildende Künste (Art Academy Hamburg).
The Canadian actress Carly May Borgstrom and Akin Sipal – himself being producer and author and working for the first time as actor – played without pre determined dialogs and improvised their scenes. There is no worst cliché then a love story in Paris. Here too Körner avoids the expectations by abstaining from any romanticisation and showing only the final act of the relationship.
In romantic films it is often claimed that the chemistry between the actors ensures that the story however unbelievable or foreseeable it is still makes it touching. In “The Bicycle“ one is drawn more and more into the relationship because the two so obviously don’t match.
Körner has not filmed one conventional love scene; they hardly touch each other and seem to be rather annoyed by each other. This slow dying of their love is something most will recall from their youth. He succeeds to convey this attitude to life with a Northern German dry wit. Obviously Körner and Sipal recount autobiographically while Carly May Borgstrom acts lively and multilayered. Her playing ensures that her character does not become a screen for the two young men.
In 2013 Körner has spent as an exchange student half a year in Paris. There from he new Paris well enough to avoid the known tourist views. He filmed without a filming permission something he could not have afforded as an independent producer. The film ends with the burning of the bicycle on the banks of River Seine.
Körner comments that these shots are very likely not anymore possible due to the terrorist attacks in Paris. In this sense his film reminds of the lost freedom and liberality of the city. Exceptional is that he filmed with real film material which is almost an anachronism. Actually the camera is part of the story as Mark – an amateur filmier – took his old Bolex along to Paris. They filmed each other and theses takes are integrated in the film. This makes it instantaneous and playfully.
Until now Arne Körner made short films only. “The Bicycle“ is his “first film with people”. The film is self financed something he could afford as he is quite busy as film editor. Last year his film premiered at the film festival in Montreal. He won a price for the best student film. Thereafter he was invited to the festival at Hof, Germany. After this promising start the marketing stopped.
Distributors showed interest in the film. But none signed a contract and Körner estimates that about 400 people have seen the film. He spent 3 years making it.