Bruno Stroszek is released from prison and ekes out a living as a street musician. He befriends Eva, a prostitute down on her luck. After they are harried and beaten by Eva's pimps, they join Bruno's neighbor, Scheitz, an elderly eccentric, when he leaves Germany to live in Wisconsin in search of the American dream.
Stroszek is one of Werner Herzog's most accessible films, and one of his best. Herzog's clever use of kitschy folk music is just one perfect element in this mesmerizing, seriocomic "ballad" of America, in which a trio of unlikely friends leave their dreary lives in Berlin, certain that wealth and comfort await in America. Their naive American dream turns sour in rural Wisconsin, and the title character (played by Bruno S., the fascinating nonactor from Herzog's The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser) becomes an insanely tragic figure, celebrating a bitterly absurd Thanksgiving in the film's unforgettable closing scenes. By fusing his own intuitive, enigmatic style with factual details from the life of Bruno S., Herzog captures the elusive "ecstatic truth" that motivates his enduring cinematic vision. While deepening one of the most unusual actor-director collaborations in the history of film, Stroszek presents an American nightmare that's funny, bizarre, and deeply, magnificently human. --Jeff Shannon