Coup de Grâce ★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

On paper, I should love this film. There's an intimate relationship drama set against the backdrop of the Russian Revolution/World War I. There are rich, well-developed characters. The cast is terrific, particularly Margarethe von Trotta - who co-wrote the adapted screenplay - as Sophie. Igor Luther's black and white cinematography is visually arresting. Just about every shot in the film would make for a wonderful still image. I did dig all of those things.

And yet, aside from being dazzled by von Trotta's Sophie, I found myself growing impatient. The true nature of Erich's "inclinations" was pretty obvious from the outset, and I had hoped something more meaningful would come from its reveal. I typically dig muted stories with a certain ambiguity and/or ambivalence, but this one frustrated me. I think I would have preferred to have seen more of Konrad, particularly with Sophie rather than with Erich. As it stands, even though he's central to the relationship drama, he exists as a plot device more than as a character.

I had hoped reading the essay on Criterion.com excerpted from Hans-Bernhard Moeller and George Lellis’ Volker Schlöndorff’s Cinema: Adaptation, Politics, and the “Movie-Appropriate" would unlock something new for me, but other than learning about the director, Volker Schlöndorff, I can't say that I gleaned anything deeper about this specific narrative than what I caught on my own.

I may never get the sight and sound of Valeska Gert laughing at the piano out of my mind.

How Der Fangschuß Entered My Flickchart

Der Fangschuß > You, Me and Dupree --> #790
You, Me and Dupree becomes a lot more interesting if it's read as a remake of Der Fangschuß. Not interesting enough to win here, but more interesting than it is.

Der Fangschuß < Barbershop --> #790
Der Fangschuß is a film I ought to dig; Barbershop is a film I actually do dig.

Der Fangschuß < McLintock! --> #790
I haven't seen McLintock! in about 15 years or so, and I may find it doesn't hold up for me anymore, but I enjoyed it at the time enough that it gets the nod here this time.

Der Fangschuß > The Royal Tenenbaums --> #691
I appreciated the narrative focus of Der Fangschuß more than the sprawl of The Royal Tenenbaums.

Der Fangschuß > The Shadow --> #642
My favorite part in The Shadow is when the guy jumps from the Empire State Building and hits different levels on his way down. That movie was terrible, and easy pickings for Der Fangschuß.

Der Fangschuß < Rikki-Tikki-Tavi --> #642
Though there are things I appreciated and enjoyed about Der Fangschuß - chief among them Margarethe von Trotta's performance - I find myself favoring Chuck Jones's adaptation of Kipling.

Der Fangschuß < Surfer, Dude --> #642
I should have found Der Fangschuß more satisfying than I did, whereas I probably shouldn't have enjoyed Surfer, Dude as much as I did.

Der Fangschuß > Destino --> #634
The Dali/Disney collaboration is interesting, but I favor the characters and their drama in Der Fangschuß.

Der Fangschuß > Grumpier Old Men --> #631
This comes down to Burgess Meredith in Grumpier Old Men, alternately hilariously vulgar/endearingly sweet, vs. Margarethe von Trotta in Der Fangschuß, intriguing and compelling. Von Trotta gets the nod.

Der Fangschuß < Muppet Treasure Island --> #631
There's a lot to appreciate about Der Fangschuß, but one of its deficiencies is the dearth of Muppets. That costs it here.

Der Fangschuß Entered My Flickchart at #631/1579