Jerichow_plak_09:Layout 1Now that just about everyone has seen JULIE & JULIA  (except moi; hey, if it worked for Kathleen … ), I thought I’d mention that, if you go to the Landmark Midtown in Atlanta and the Meryl Streep movie is sold out, give JERICHOW a try. It’s an odd — and oddly affecting — spin on James M. Cain’s “The Postman Always Rings Twice.”

Set in Germany, this version might better be called “The Postman Always Rings Once.” Except there is no postman and no doorbell. Dishonorably discharged drifter and semi-lout, Thomas (Benno Furmann) helps out an alcoholic Turkish immigrant, Ali (Hilmi Sozer) when the man is too drunk to complete his collection rounds at several roadside snack bars he owns.

Jerichow2So Ali hires Thomas as his driver and general helpmate. Thomas promptly helps himself to Ali’s lovely but aloof German wife, Laura (Nina Hoss) who’s not what you’d call unwilling. A triangle evolves, just as it did in the ’40s version, starring Lana Turner and John Garfield as the illicit lovers and the ‘80s version with Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange.

Director Christian Petzold has much more sympathy for his cuckold than Cain or Hollywood ever did. Thus, he leaves the ending much less resolved and our sympathies, well, much less resolved as well. Ali is shown to be selfish, weak, and rather shrewd. But he’s also allowed to be quite human. And it makes all the difference.

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Eleanor Ringel Cater

Eleanor Ringel Cater

Eleanor Ringel Cater, long-time movie critic for The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, also has been a regular contributor to CNN, MSNBC, Entertainment Weekly, Headline News and WXIA, Atlanta's NBC affiliate, and a columnist for TV Guide.