Tangled Up in Blue: Wepper?s Rudi is prematurely mummified.

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Not many people are jonesing to know exactly when and how they’re going to die. But what if your doc gave you a terminal diagnosis and your loved one never told you, instead gently suggesting that you ditch your regular routine for more bucket-list-friendly activities? That’s the infuriating setup in Cherry Blossoms, a German weepie written and directed by How to Cook Your Life’s Doris Dörrie with maximum bathos and more than a passing resemblance to 1953’s Tokyo Story. Presumably, viewers are supposed to ache for Trudi (Hannelore Elsner), an adventurous but stifled housewife who learns that her husband, Rudi (Elmar Wepper), is going to die soon. The couple’s grown children live far away; because Trudi loves the Japanese performance art known as butoh and is also obsessed with Mount Fuji, she suggests they visit their son, Karl (Maximilian Brückner), in Tokyo. Rudi refuses but agrees to go to Berlin to see their other two children, both of whom try to be polite but really regard the visit as a burden on both their nerves and their schedules. Throughout, Dorrie peppers the script with blather about time and impermanence, while Elsner looks stricken at anything that could be construed as death-related. It’s heavy-handed, and if you believe that Trudi’s silence about Rudi’s illness is unethical—especially when he repeatedly insists that his dull old life suits him just fine—you’ll want to throttle instead of console her. But then the Grim Reaper does it for you: Yep, it’s Trudi who dies suddenly, and the remainder of the overlong film is devoted to Rudi as he grieves, regrets never having nurtured his wife’s artistic side, and finds rather odd ways of staying connected to her—while still unaware he’s not much longer for this world. Cherry Blossoms’ attempt at mournful poetry gets only half of it right: The film is as relentlessly brooding as last year’s Synecdoche, New York, but its arty flourishes—butoh performances, Rudi dancing in a kimono and makeup—mostly range from pretentious to laughable. Rudi’s transformation after he moves in with Karl and putters around Tokyo isn’t always believable, either. (Three words: human cabbage roll.) Dorrie does offer lovely shots of the titular blooms as well as a breathtaking view of Mount Fuji, but they’re not enough to lighten this ponderous load.