Vanina’s review published on Letterboxd:
So, I waited years (literally) to see this film, and now I've been staring at this box for... a little-less-long to figure out what I want to say about it.
Obviously, with it being based on one of my all-time favourite films 'All That Heaven Allows', thematically this was going to be a hit with me no matter what, but I love what Fassbinder added to the story himself. It's incredibly disheartening that the attitudes Emmi's friends hold are still so rampant today.
I hate codependency in romantic stories, but I also really love it when a film manages to convey how another person can completely change your life. It's incredibly sentimental of me, but yeah. El Hedi ben Salem embodies everything Brigitte Mira no longer dares to hope for, and in between the incredible prejudice, envy and disapproval they face, he symbolises a great liberation for her. That understanding look and those broad shoulders - it's pure Rock Hudson, but also very specific to Salem's character.
Fassbinder includes several prolonged steady shots where Emmi and Ali are framed by doorways, trapped between walls and it's a very subtle visual reminder that this great personal liberation isolates Emmi from her old community. *
I love the fact that this 40-year-old film is so incredibly progressive, focusing on a 60-something woman with a mindset a lot of people today could learn from. The only thing that I would have liked to see more of is Ali's side of things - during the second half of the film he becomes a strangely indifferent and remote character, although a second viewing would have to help me make my mind up if it's actually detrimental to the film.
[* thoughts on framing continued in my review of Todd Haynes' Carol.]