Thursday, 4 January 2007

The Merchant Of Four Seasons (1972) - Rainer Werner Fassbinder

A director full of contradictions and tensions, and a film to match.

Hans leads a troubled life, stuck in a job that he dislikes, scorned upon by his family, confined to a loveless marriage. His wife prostitutes herself off to a guy on the street. In order to improve things Hans enlists some help, twist would have it that the "help" is the guy who recently slept with his wife. His wife, being the deviant cow she is soon sees to his career in pear-peddling before Hans's mate from the Foreign Legion, Harry, moves in. From there on things dont improve much for poor old Hans (though he does have a hot sister if you ask me - played by Hanna Schygulla).

The women in this film aren't nice, but dont mistake it for mysoginism - because it is far from it. Fassbinder paints a complex frescoe of humanity, one steeped in the complexities and jostling tensions of reality, one where there are no easy motivations or solutions, where everything remains a mystery. The bit i like the most however about Fassbinder's films is the way he shoots them. The aesthetic vibrancy combined with his unique staging schema produce an effect that juxtaposes clinical precision with raw erotic emotion in a way i haven't seen from any other director.

Fassbinder is a genius, and this film is great. 8/10

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