Directed by Rainer Werner FassbinderWest Germany | 1969
What these scenes, and indeed most of the film, point towards is an excruciatingly closed-off, claustrophobic world that negates the desire for freedom that Franz’s character explicitly wishes for and the other characters implicitly wish for. We never get the sense these characters have other options; every location Fassbinder takes us, mostly during Bruno’s search for Franz and Johanna, is populated by pimps, prostitutes, and thieves.
Directed by François OzonFrance | 2000
Their relationship is both mordant and passionate, mirroring the relationship Leopold had with his prior female flame in which the two took unabated joy in having sex and unabated grief in their colloquy. Their worst traits quickly bubble to the surface, and by the third act they’re doing almost nothing but intentionally pushing each other’s buttons. They obviously (and restlessly) love each other, but their inability to communicate signals an inevitable breach. Surfacing too are themes of power and exploitation which put to rest any doubt that this is Fassbinder country.
Directed by Rainer Werner FassbinderWest Germany | 1974
Emmi’s ability to see Ali as an individual and find happiness with him doesn’t preclude her from prejudice either. When her friends start talking to her again Emmi easily falls into her clique and then colludes to exclude another foreigner (a Yugoslav cleaner lady) just as naturally as her friends had excluded her. While on another occasion she reduces Ali to a piece of meat and denotes his displeasure with the experience as simply “his foreign mentality”. Everyone makes steps to overcome some barriers, but it’s always at the cost of failing to see other walls, some seemingly more obvious.