Am I Beautiful? (1998) Poster

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Quest for love
BlancheDeLaForce8 September 2002
This movie knits a web of stories that revolve around the loveless wedding of a girl, concerning her mother and father, her sisters, her former boyfriend, the wedding party caterer, a girl accidentally met in a rainy evening, and the people these people meet: a Spanish man who brings the ashes of his dead German wife to Germany, to bring her to the rain and green grass she missed; an extravagant girl who seeks the attention of strangers by pretending she is handicapped or ill; the father's mistress who slashes her wrists in a clandestine visit to her lover's house; an abandoned old woman found by the younger sister in the airport.

The stories, located half in Germany and half in Spain, can be intensely poetic, or intensely brutal, or funny, or poignant, and make up an absorbing whole. All of them have to do with love, love being found, lost or hankered after. By the end of the movie the stories have not been brought to any closure; like in life, there are no neat endings.
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It's truly a masterpiece.
Blues-626 May 2000
I've just seen "Bin ich schön?" today and I totally disagree with the other critic. I think this film is BEAUTIFUL (That's the better word to describe it) because it's made of small things and tries not to give a lesson or just entertain you for two hours, you will leave the cinema with your heart touched... No one had showed me Spain, the way Doris Dörrie did... Plain, simple and yet astonishing... Perhaps I understood her because I come from a country that lives of small rituals like Spain does. The music is also fantastic, like in every Dörrie film.
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Great movie, great music, Life is mean at times
Ernie6 October 1998
Now that is a film that tries to show the modern world of relationships and how many people just do not get what they want, due to mean folks around, lack of communication and trust or just unfitting circumstances. Depressing autumn movie, but with a glimpse of hope and great music of mostly Spanish origin.
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Doris Dörrie in a nutshell
igutierrez29 November 2002
"Life according to Doris" might be an adequate alternative title to this film. Instead of telling a linear story with a showdown, Dörrie spotlights moments in people's life that tell everything about their past, their present and the world that surrounds them. The way she does it puts her in one line with Jim Jarmusch. As in most of her other films, it is what the characters say and do more than how it is filmed what makes the film. "Bin ich schön?" is the closest any of Dörries's films comes to her remarkable short stories.
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A movie like the life September 1998
A movie like the life - complex, with unexpected connections, ups and downs - intelligently made. The actors are great as well, especially Franka Potente.
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There's exciting stuff here but a bit complex, maybe confusing.
bubalah10 February 2006
This movie deserves a better review than the previous one by Melendez from Brazil. It is true that the plot is complex and not easy to follow, but if you are looking for easy entertainment, this is not for you. There are some very mature sub-plots that will leave some viewers behind, empty, and in the dust. (If you care to look at the votes on this, the demographic breakdown is proof of this; the older the viewers, the higher the rating!) It takes a superb attention span and recall to get to the end of this film in one piece and then you might wonder where you started; but it is worth it. This movie is like a fascinating painting that you can't forget even tho it has some drips,runs,and smudges in it.
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This movie demonstrates the problems of German films
ygee7 October 1998
My friend just summarized this film perfectly:"I paid ten DM for this film and I can't even be upset about having wasted my money". This movie is completely German: every character which appears in it is introduced, explained and motivated. No holes in the plot, no surprises, no bad scenes as well. The acting is great, but hey, what do you expect if you throw a lot of "soul" and "drama" to a selection of Germany's finest actors.

If you are not German and never lived in this country, don't see this movie; it will appear dull and retarded. If you are German, you will enjoy it, laugh (a bit) and feel sad in the end. Just fine for a casual Saturday evening out with your girl-/boy-friend.

Summary of the plot: the movie is set partly in Spain and partly in Germany. All scenes are essentially dialogues between two of a bunch of characters that are all somehow related to each other. The web of their fates, loves, flirts, dramas is pulled tighter and tighter, but unlike your expectations no climax occurs. So you end up with a collection of short stories, which is where the script of the movie originated from (To read a truly fascinating book based on the same idea, try Ingo Schulzes 'Simple Stories' -- much better than the movie!). Apparently, Ms Doerrie made this film in order to memorate her late partner, who died during the first attempt to shoot it. This is why all the dialogues circle around the ever-hot topic of love, death & marriage. She hadn't had the courage and the understanding to do the film with two persons, so instead she multiplied the problems and characters as if to demonstrate that in the end we are all alike with our problems and our solutions. Heavy stuff ! And, being German, Ms Doerrie offers instantly the perfect solution: Stop being German and become Spanish! They got songs, dances, sun and know how to mourn and live...

I give this film 5 points, because it is so average and stubborn. I wished that once these directors dared and I could love or hate their films. Now they annoy me, but decently.

P.S.: If you are up for a good German movie, go see 'Lola rennt' by Tom Tykwer !
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Quite a nice movie with 'no beginning, no end'
moniquemathot24 February 2002
I think this is quite a nice movie. In a scene that is somewhere halfway (actually I bet it's precisely halfway) you get the clue you need: there's no beginning and no end in this movie, so don't bother yourself looking for it. Once this is taken for granted, you see some quite excellent scenes, in which you are in the thick of things of the life of some (more of less) loose connected people. There is humour, affection, love, lust and sadness, and most of the players are very convincing. The only character that could be missed in my opinion was Linda, played by Franka Potente: she is playing exactly the same character as she was in 'Lola rennt' (without the running). Just an irritatingly weird girl, with no real or convincing acts and emotions, except her singing her own flamenco song. If Franka Potente can't play a character unlike Lola, I'm sorry to say I've seen enough of her by now.
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Let's have a good laugh!
The Cat-43 October 1998
Once more Doris Dörrie makes us dive into the deep absurdity of life in general and love affairs more specifically. Through precise observation and careful staging she displays the weakness and the strength of the characters. Two examples: One of the most powerful scenes is when Linda (Franka Potente - Germany's latest shooting starlet) prosternates herself in front of the Holy Virgin during the Semana Santa in Seville and prays for strength and courage. When the unfaithful husband is about to be discovered and drops to his knees asking his daughter for help is another scene that made me both laugh and weep. "Bin ich schön" is one of the best satires on society I have ever seen and Doris Dörrie may well be seen as the European counterpart to Woody Allen.
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Too many characters, too much banality
gonz3025 April 1999
A disappointment from Germany's Doris Dorrie. In this Altman like cast movie, with dozens of Germany's and Spain's actors "du jour", these stars' talents are wasted on boring and anything but innovative sub plots (there is no single discernible plot) and very little to link all the characters.Not even the excellent Framka Potente (Run Lola Run) nor Maria Schrader (Nobody Loves Me, and Aimee and Jaguar)nor Joachim Krol (Maybe, Maybe Not) can sustain one's interest in this Euro yawner.
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vst18 May 2002
well this movie struck me when i watched it first.

all you need is an open mind and no preoccupancy to sudden changes and their impact into individual life. a little freedom, sometimes just arriving and you are there: in doris doerries fiction, and right into the human nature with all the fascination set into the right light and location with a hint of miracle... dd has her own way of making movies and i hope she will go on...

i think this is one of the best movies i have ever seen and one of my all time it !!
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ivaan16 January 1999
Great director, great story, great movie, great actors and actresses (Potente, Dobra, Petri, Berger, Makatsch, Wink). I wait for video!!

P.S. Great music also. CD is a must!!
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A woman is looking for the exit and finds herself.
Gandalf-28 August 1998
I am sorry to say that, but this film is one of the worst I have ever seen. There is nothing to say against breaking a rule, but breaking all rules in one film definitely is too much. This film lacks the plot, the protagonist, the conflict and the showdown. It is an "esoteric" report about what life is about (or so) and may be intended as a portrait of todays social behaviour. Being stuck in a traffic jam for 5 hours is more interesting.
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Not a beautiful film
Horst_In_Translation22 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
"¿Bin ich schön?" is a German German-language film from 1998 that has Spanish influences too as a great part of the movie is set in Spain. It runs for roughly 110 minutes and is among the most known career efforts by writer and director Doris Dörrie who was in her early 40s when she made this one, neither early in her career nor recent. German film buffs will find many familiar faces and names in the cast list that were probably even bigger back then than they are today like Potente (big breakthrough year for her), Wöhler, Berben, Ochsenknecht, Schrader, Dobra, Zielcke, von Borsody, Król, Makatsch, Schneeberger, Berger, Sander, John and Petri who won a German Film Award that year for two films this being one of them, probably the less decisive looking at her small role. I cannot say that this movie is among Dörrie's best in my opinion. It does have some solid moments, especially early on with Potente's story line, but that had a lot to do with Wöhler's presence too and I quite like him. But the longer it went the less significant this story also became, like the others, while finally resulting in the singing scene by Potente's character, which is when the film hits rock-bottom. So yes this is never a memorable film, not even during the dramatically tense moments like the scene when she cuts her wrists trying to commit suicide while with her older lover. It all feels a bit for the sake of it and staged and really rarely authentic. I would blame the material more than the actors. Maybe it was also 2-3 characters too many as the longer the film went, the more I felt it was lacking focus. There is almost always a distinct foreign component to Dörrie's films in a bit of a culture clash, but here it is not really more than the setting as Spanish people don't really play a role here at all. It's all about the Germans. Looking at the tremendous quantity of well-known and successful names in the cast here, it was definitely a missed opportunity as this film is evidence that script is always king if you want to make a good film. Unknown actors can deliver with a strong script, but big names rarely make a weak story work. This episodic drama that will have its 20th anniversary next year gets a thumbs-down from me. Not recommended.
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Strange Movie
Sieben30 August 1998
If you want an action movie, don't watch it. But if you aren't afraid of long dialogues and if you want to see a calm, based on short-stories (like "Shortcuts") and cultural movie, and if you're interested in observing peoples when they try to handle their little problems, watch it.
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an existential 'map' of interlocking tales of illusions deconstructed
cetaylor311 July 2001
Dorrie seems to have mellowed since Men and Nobody Loves Me, both of which were fresh and delightfully uncharted-water, passionately warm takes on one of her overriding concerns and themes, an exploration and advocacy of an existentialist philosophy of life. This time out, perhaps just for being another decade out post-existentialism, her labyrinth of expatriate German adventurers in exotic Spain ultimately feels oddly somewhat less fresh or less fully emotionally engaging but nevertheless is a solid and intellectually engaging new set of contexts and characters through which to examine more turns of the die. A child's-captivated-ear indoctrination into the myths which so easily lead us astray (into false hope, then deception, then dried-up going-through-the-motions stub-toed, danceless mere existence) frames what is broader in scope in this film compared to the previous two: there is no age or gender delimitation of focus here as we see random-encounterers young and old, female and male, show their vulnerability to idealized visions which leave them floundering. Through one particular children's tale which begins and ends the film, Dorrie implicitly observes that it is in the stories we are told that our false expectations of life take root, here a tale about a tiger and a bear who conjure up a ballyhooed idyllic land to set their sails for-a banana-growing nirvana named Panama. We adults know, wink-wink, the folly of the tiger and bear, but we love such stories and we crave expectation-building stories like an addiction, she seems to say...and thereby in childhood learning sets the stage for evaluating the ensuing adult ventures toward their own mirage-like horizons. So feed us stories, Doris: ...about a lost lover--or two, a lost wife or two (one mortally, another spiritually), a lost identity or two (one intentionally, another accidentally), a lost fantasy or two... or a dozen. The title would have us ask to what extent these losses of illusion, of dreamed-of perfection, impact our ability to see and feel true untrammeled pleasure in both ourselves (am I beautiful?) and in others (can I delight in making another happy? to realize and throw off the layers of claptrap that keep me/us from casting onerous cognition to the wind and instead to indulge the heart and the moment--from literally throwing one's possessions out the window to indulging what might have been an offputting fetishist's fantasies to singing out to engage the spirit of a foreign exotic spiritual procession and be willing to acknowledge in song one's fears and quests). It's not a new theme but it's reworking works, albeit keeping us a bit at arm's length from the subjects, perhaps (wittingly?) to mirror the arm's length from the fullness of engagement in life that is the nature of existence for her characters until varying quiet epiphanies open their paths to new alternative ways of perceiving. (In some ways, this medium-is-the-message reflection on the chagrins of a life lived at arm's length parallels that of the more recent French film Under the Sand.) As the path taken by Linda (Franka Potente)--one of the younger and central questers--displays, the search for the keys to existential truth, to 'be here now', can too easily alight on answers >that look programmable and can lead to 'false gods' along the path, most unacceptably that of inauthenticity. Just as Linda learns that she can derail herself entirely if she is not honest or tries to manipulate (trying to control others or their feelings with her bag of tricks whilst living in disguise from and thus not owning herself), so others learn how easy it is to kid themselves into thinking they've found the elusive 'peace' or 'simplicity' which they perceive in an ostensibly uncomplicated lover who then proves suicidal, or other escapist plan which goes awry. Almost nothing is what it, he, or she seems-until they learn to be vulnerable, self-accepting, sentient and thereby empowered. There lurks complexity and pain, just more buried in some than in others. There is no carefree Panama banana republic, but there is pleasure in honesty of spirit. And the voices of this realization come in some curious packages (further fleshing out the wisdom-where-you-least-expect-it notion whose fascinating messenger in Nobody Loves Me was the voice of a marginalized, lovelorn but lovingly unselfish transvestite): here an overweight chef who is blissfully married to his young-love sweetheart with a passion for her soul that knows no parameters or criteria but is unabashedly unconditional, a Spaniard who refuses to indulge his German girlfriend's need to hear spurious pledges of eternal love, the errant husband/father who seizes the moment to respectfully respond to Linda until her deception forces him to draw his line in the sand and thus startles her back to self-acceptance, another errant husband/father whose Caribbean indulgences have actualized his spirit of "to dance is to live" and who finally lures down the encrusted wall behind which his wife has been taking sullen refuge. Here it is most often the women who have internalized the childhood idyllic stories to their peril, having sold themselves a flurry of fantasies that focus on the future or the past, who with well-meaning enchantment see heaven in a red cashmere sweater they sell or buy, a stereotypically fanciful wedding gown, a notion of storybook romance, and who--with considerable blindness--stumble in seeking their way back to themselves. But they do listen, and learn.
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