Directed by Roeland Kerbosch, For a Lost Soldier is a deftly made, touching film, elegiac and melancholy without heaviness or schmaltz. But it never arrives at the big emotional payoff that it seems it ought to. Kerbosch, who adapted the novel by Rudi van Dantzig, works cleanly and briskly, but somehow doesn't find the point of the story.

The love scenes (never quite graphic) between the grown man and the kid may be upsetting to audience members, and maybe they should be. But it should be remembered that another double standard comes into play here--films in which grown men deflower underage girls, like The Lover and Dirty Dancing, are often hits, and an underage boy initiated by a grown woman is money in the bank.

For a Lost Soldier plays Friday through June 23.
Salmonberries--k.d. lang plays Kotzebue, a feral young woman who develops an infatuation for Roswitha (Rosel Zech), an older, straight German woman, the librarian of the bleak, northwest Alaska town where they live. Kotzebue's so taken with Roswitha that she manages to finance a visit for both of them to newly liberated East Berlin, so that Roswitha can make peace with the tragic circumstances under which she left decades earlier. There's also a vague, clumsily handled subplot involving Kotzebue searching for the identity of her parents, who abandoned her in the tiny, frozen, Alaska town as a baby.

This is a really weird one, even by the standards of writer-director Percy Adlon (Bagdad Cafe, Rosalie Goes Shopping). There's nothing actually implausible about the plot, but it has a jumbled, tangential quality that's at odds with the utter, gloomy seriousness of Adlon's tone. Besides, the film doesn't go anywhere. It begins with a moody sequence of an old man describing the sordid, tragic end of Madame Bovary, but it isn't a tragedy. Nor is it a comedy. For the most part, it's just a laborious failure.

Still, it's an occasionally interesting failure. lang acquits herself with an appropriately flat, nonactorish performance, and Zech is excellent. The film's dramatic high point is Roswitha's long, tearful monologue, straight into the camera--she holds back nothing, yet she doesn't seem histrionic.

Salmonberries plays June 24 through 30.
Boys' Shorts: The New Queer Cinema--This feature-length program consists of six films, each less than half an hour long: Resonance, directed by Stephen Cummins; R.S.V.P., directed by Laurie Lynd; Anthem, directed by Marlon Riggs (of Tongues Untied renown); Relax, directed by Christopher Newby; Billy Turner's Secret, directed by Michael Mayson; and The Dead Boys' Club, directed by Mark Christopher. Boys' Shorts plays June 24 through 30.

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