(Der Krieger und Die Kaiserin) Directed by Tom Tykwer. Starring Franka Potente, Benno Furmann, Joachim Krol and Lars Rudolph.

'The Princess And The Warrior' is a modern day fairytale that plays with the typical Tykwer themes of fate and coincidence. Sissi (Potente) is a young psychiatric nurse whose insular existence is disrupted by a dramatic and fleeting encounter with the enigmatic Bodo (Furmann). She goes on a quest to track him down and what follows is a tale of two damaged people - one grieving for love lost, the other for love denied - slowly reaching out towards each other.

The narrative alternates between the worlds of the two protagonists, gradually drawing them together. Sissi's daily life in the institution that is her only home is meticulously conveyed, heightening the atmosphere of disturbed intensity that pervades the film as a whole. A skilled ensemble of supporting actors convincingly brings to life a group of hospital patients, managing to avoid what could easily have degenerated into the farcical in the hands of lesser talents.

Bodo's story introduces the film's crime plot, affording Tykwer the opportunity for some generic play in what is essentially an alternative romance. A chain reaction of apparently random events eventually reveals an intricate spider web, underscoring the director's ongoing formal concerns. Great attention is also paid to the marriage between sound and image throughout.

Although not as tricksy as its predecessor, 'Run Lola Run', 'The Princess And The Warrior' indulges in the odd technical flourish from time to time. Thematically, it shares many concerns with Tykwer's second feature, 'Winter Sleepers', although it is not quite as engaging. But this is a very different type of film and mesmerising in its own way.

Siobhán Mannion