Sunday 22 June 2014

Love Is Colder Than Death [1969]

Love is Colder than Death can perhaps be described as American Noir and Gangster genres meet French Nouvelle Vague sensibilities meet the mercurial Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s idiosyncratic style. RWF’s assured debut feature, it portrayed crime, violence, camaraderie, love and ménage à trois through a strange prism of pastiche, personal statement and adventurous formalism. The film begins with Franz (Fassbinder), a brutish and daredevil small-time pimp and hoodlum, being tortured by the Syndicate to join their organization. Upon realizing the futility of their exercise he’s allowed to leave, but Bruno (Ulli Lommel), a young sharp-shooting gangster in the making, is engaged to follow him. What eventually follows is a wicked and unpredictable tryst between the two outsiders and Franz’s alluring and seductive prostitute girlfriend Joanna (Hanna Schygulla). They chat, make bizarre plans, rob stores, kill people and make love in this restless and hyper-stylized film stripped of conventional plot developments. Influences of early-Godard – Bande a Part in particular, and Melville’s Le Samourai were evident in this wacky concoction served by RWF, with the deliberately theatrical set-pieces and an understated streak of sly fun at the audience’s cost, making this a rather interesting piece of work by the prolific New German Cinema icon. The fourth-wall was often breached, the narrative was often interspersed with scenes that seemed out of place were, moments of alienation were alternated with black humour, and genre symbols were both evoked and discarded in this alternately off-putting and intriguing little film. The sexual chemistry between the American noir prototype Franz, Alain Delon look-a-like Bruno, and the sassy, promiscuous Joanna, was particularly noteworthy.

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Genre: Crime Drama/Gangster/Post-Noir
Language: German
Country: Germany

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