This movie is never boring, superficial or pretentious. If you want boring, supeficial and pretentious just go see any of the Matrix sequels.
This film has also been described as a character study, but I think it is very much more than that. It the story of the quest, common to most people, to find something authentic within the all to often pointless conditions of modern life. The key images are the huge mountain of coal slag behind Shultze's garden and house and the repeated image of the silent, relentless windmill. The mountain of slag is the coal waste which Shultze has spend most of his existence mining and which will eventually cause his death from lung disease; the windmill represents the ceaseless passage of time, which is indifferent to how well or how poorly we spend our days between the beginning and the end which it provides for us. Together they point to the absurdity of his (and our) existence. The character Laurent shows the true way to live within this rather ruthless reality. She is a contrast to his catatonic mother, her roommate in the nursing home.
For whatever reason Cajun music quite suddenly touches something within Shultze and sparks his quest for something better; the rest of the film is about his rather uncertain journey to realize this odd hint of something authentic. What he finds along the way are good relationships, and many other people who are seeking, each in their own way, the same thing (e.g. the flamenco-dancing barmaid, the motorcross passions of his retired friend, the ill-tempered poet/switchman). Although Shultze is misunderstood sometimes, on the whole people are more helpful to him than hurtful. Eventually he finds a brief taste of the authentic life he is seeking, albeit just in time.
We see so few movies that actually try to quietly remind us of something important that we should try to appreciate them when they do come along. This is a great film, which is very cinematic, well directed and very consistent. The acting is so good it is hard to understand it as acting at all. It is sad that some who view this film will not understand it or how good it really is because their expectations of film are so conditioned by the hollywood blockbuster machine. Even more saddly, the very people who miss the point of movies like this one are those who most need to understand them. It finally comes down to a question of whether you think film should just distract us from our own absurdity, or actually help us find our way out of it.