WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
Scathingly funny and surprisingly warm at heart, this midlife-crisis satire by German film writer/director Dörrie (What Do You Want from Me?) skims the surface of contemporary life and comes up with a story rich in comedy and insight. German businessman Fred Kaufmann is a total bastard, and that's an understatement. He's 44, husband to attractive neat-freak Claudia, part-time lover to 25-year-old Spanish teacher Marisol and father to sullen, rebellious teenager Franka. Once he dreamed of becoming a film director, but long ago he joined Claudia in her health-food cafe business. His true occupations, however, are self-regard, self-pity and skirt-chasing. Credit is due the author for somehow making Fred likable, even sympathetic, despite his irksome flaws. An opportunity for enlightenment comes in a roundabout way: Claudia and Franka attend a Buddhist meditation retreat in France, and they return changed women. The latter has found love with a lama and begs her parents to let her go back to live with him. Fred offers to take Franka back to the retreat so he can meet the lama in person and eventually dissuade his daughter from her plans. Thoroughly skeptical of the Buddhist path to enlightenment, Fred surprisingly finds himself cleaving to the seekers at the retreat and doing a bit of seeking himself. Though Dörrie's plot is predictable, it is redeemed by Fred's cynical, humorous narration, and his transformation from a boor into a sentient human being who finally learns manages to put others first from time to time. (July 10)