This German film about a group of misfits trying to find someplace to belong in the world is a touching, wry, surprising film by the magnanimous Werner Herzog. The first half of the film is set in Berlin, where the main character, Bruno Stroszek is just coming out of a long stretch of institutional life where he is trying to overcome alcoholism and other mental deficiencies. He steps right back into drinking, playing music in Berlin’s alleyways, and making friends with an older recluse and Eva, a young female prostitute. Stroszek is unable to defend himself or his friends from those who would take advantage them . After a series of attacks by Eva’s pimps the three friends move to Wisconsin in the United States where they expect a life of ease and riches to come their way. Their dreams are dashed as the realities of financial obligations weigh them down and eventually lead them to desperate actions.
The climax of the film is an astonishing work of desperation, a strange and yet powerful outpouring of musical and artistic expression as Stroszek creates a carnival-like enactment of the freedom that always seems to elude him. What he sets into play is an odd yet perfectly out-of-sink dance that evokes the line by George Carlin: “Those who dance are considered insane by those who can’t hear the music.”