Friday, November 5, 2010


Angst Vor Der Angst(Fear Of Fear)(1975)Directed By Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Margot, is a middle class German housewife, who is having some problems. For one she's seeing things, the camera ripplesas if under waterwhenever she experiences one of these fits. Or else it zooms in dramatically, as if her focus is being thrown off completely. Is she just depressed, hysterical, schizophrenic, or suffering an anxiety disorder? No one seems to notice, she doesn't know, and different doctors tell her different things.
Her husband is largely uninterested while he's studying for some Math exam, in their apartment beneath his mothers and sisters. Needless to say Mom and big sis, are always sticking their head in with helpfull hints on how she can be a better, mother, wife, daughter-in-law etc. One doctor wants to have an affair and out of desperation she does. When she has sex she stops thinking, "then the fear doesn't come". That only works, til she wants more than he's willing to give, then its a booze and pills cocktail to numb the days away. The only person who asks her to talk is a man from across the street who she tells her daughter is "sick in the head", and avoids at all costs because hes a walking mirror of her, but one that at least reaches out. She may be not-right, but she's not one of "those people". Like other drama's about housewives on the edge, John Cassavettes actors showcase, "A Woman Under The Influence", or Todd Haynes germaphobic "Safe", this is gripping and sad film. The big difference is Fassbinder adds a lot of humor, especially in the music, which is almost timed for comedy at points
Its a disorientating experience, and maybe flat to some, but I understood Margot's plight, which wasn't just limited to her station as a housewife, her love or lack of love, or her substance abuse, perhaps its something she will never be rid off. Fassbinder puts us in Margot's shoes, forcing us into empathy without a clear solution. Someone commented its like the best Lifetime movie ever. I disagree mostly with the sentiment, but wouldn't rule it out the accuracy of the statement. This like many of Fassbinder's best films was made for tv. When the story is weak, the style picks up pausing over small moments to treat or changing scenes cutting off sentences midstream to heighten the emotional tension and malaise...and for the most part it works.

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