Grit Schwerdtfeger, Paramount Classics
Technically, in "Schultze Gets the Blues," he actually gets zydeco the rollicking, often-accordion-driven musical style commonly associated with the Cajun and Creole culture.
It's a considerably brighter, cheerier type of music than the blues. And those terms "brighter" and "cheerier" might be used to describe this low-key German movie.
The title character is a kindhearted salt-mine worker (Horst Krause) who's been forced into early retirement, along with his two buddies, Jurgen (Harald Warmbrunn) and Manfred (Karl-Fred Muller). The three men try to fill their days with fishing, chess games and bicycle riding. And Schultze tries to hone his accordion playing, which has become the focus of some good-natured jabs from his friends. (He's been playing the same polka number for years.)
However, one night Schultze is flipping through radio stations and hears a bewildering, bewitching melody a zydeco tune, which he tries to reproduce and play for his dumbstruck friends.
There's more to the story, which includes some silly bits about a flirtatious nursing-home employee (Rosemary Deibel) and a flamenco-dancing waitress (Wilhelmine Horschig). Not all of them are as memorable as the main plot, but on whole this is an impressive feature-filmmaking debut for writer/director Michael Schorr, a former documentarian.
He gets a lot of help from his cast, especially Krause, who makes Schultze a lovable galoot. And the soundtrack, which includes both polkas and zydeco numbers, is pretty good as well.
Admittedly, some audiences may find the film's deliberate pacing to be too slow, and its plotting to be too predictable. But those who are patient enough to stick it out will be charmed.
"Schultze Gets the Blues" is rated PG for use of racial epithets, mild profanity (mostly religiously based) and some crude slang terms (as well as some mildly vulgar humor). Running time: 114 minutes.
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