About two years ago, a new novel by Peter Handke was published. It dealth with a woman who suddenly decides that she must establish a life for herself, apart from her husband.With her small son, she embarks on the road to independence, experiencing moments of panic and despair, yet finally reaching a state where, as she says while gazing into the reflection of her own eyes, "You haven't given yourself away. And no one will ever humiliate you again."
"The Left-Handed woman" is an extraordinarily delicate book. Its prose is spare and lean, with no wasted words or wasted emotions. Read more than once, its meanings become clearer without becoming louder or more obvious. It is the work of an assured young master -- and a far cry from the bellicose theatrical works that Handke concocted earlier in his career.
Now Handke has turned "The Left-Handed Woman" into his first film as a director. It reflects the influence of Wim Wenders, for whom Handke wrote such movies as "The Wrong Move" and "The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick." Like Wenders, Handke seeks a realistic, documentary style that leaves plenty of breathing room for dramatic expression. Another strong influence on Handke appears to have been Michelangelo and Antonioni, whose muted moods and painstakingly precise images are echoed in scene after scene of "The Left-Handed Woman."
The film is further graced with fine performances by Edith Clever, as the heroine, and Bruno Ganz as her husband. "The Left-Handed Woman" is a quiet and graceful work that makes its worthy points in a soft cinematic whisper. It marks a major filmaking debut by a German artist and stands as a first-rate achievement in its right.