Whow! It seems putting things between the source and subjects is a common practice in film, photographers should do much more with this. For them it usually is a bounce, a piece of cloth, an umbrella, a softbox, a reflector or sometimes a fresnel and nothing more... Reading your post while looking at the pictures makes a lot of things obvious and also very predictable, but I didn't always see it myself.... ouch!
It might be the high contrast with soft shadows that looks mysterious since it is such an uncommon combination. You mention the light source being soft with the duo shot, that indeed must be looking at the shadows, still I am put on the wrong foot with the high contrast. That high contrast is so easely mistaken with hard light. (Same happend with the head shot.)
Which I could see you work one day, would probably beat most education.
You guys sure gave a great tip in Road to Perdition, watched it yesterday night. The light is so simple, never over the top, yet it really gives the film a unique character. Even the colors are in harmony with the light, piece of art. Probably was quite a team doing the light, they must have worked on more movies... Not much open fresnels?
Prauge! Booze, sex and dance. You probably left when pornography took over in that city, in that respect it is the LA of Europe, not very exciting all that soft light, no open fresnels for sure! Still a city very much alive, don't know about their beers though....