Reviewed Mar 04, 2012
Adam Moody’s review:
A personal pessimistic tale by the great Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Fassbinder plays a role that I can safely predict is how he views himself. He plays Franz "Fox" Bieberkopf, a good-natured, hopeful, and considerate homosexual man who works odd jobs that include being "Fox, the Talking Head" at a circus to earn money. His lover is taken to prison and he loses his act, but on the same day he meets a mysterious wealthy gentleman and wins the lottery. Intrigued by Fox's newly acquired wealth, the wealthy man brings Fox introduces Fox to the sexually diverse and corrupted to the bone German upper-class. Fox starts a relationship with a deceitful, struggling entrepreneur, who sees Fox as his company's ticket out of bankruptcy, and quickly falls in love. What makes this film work so well is that we can see Fox's fate coming from the start, but Fassbinder plays his infuriatingly naive role so wonderfully that watching the world smack him around only for him to come back with natural optimism and a undeserved generosity is heart wrenching. Fassbinder uses various films of his to portray how upper-class German society rapes the entire country with its corruption - The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979) and Lola (1981) are great examples - and we see first-hand Fox being brutally raped by the corruption of Germany. This film struggles to be engaging at times, but Fassbinder's shows greatness both in front and behind the camera. Like it many of his films he allows one character to drive the film with a variety of strong supporting roles following along, the difference this time is that he himself plays the character that drives the film and he is marvelous. Fassbinder takes us on a hopeless journey with society's corruption killing natural hope.
P.S. El Hedi ben Salem, who plays Ali in Ali: Fear Eats The Soul, makes a brief appearance as a Moroccan drifter. Around this time Fassbinder and Salem were supposedly still in their heated love-affair.