Cologne, 1972. Devious film director Peter von Kant (Dennis Minochet) is in a bit of a funk both personally and professionally. When long-term collaborator Sidouni (Isabelle Adjani) introduces him to actor Amir (Khalil Gharbia), his spark returns. But how long will this happiness last?
Peter von Kant It begins and ends with portraits of the famous neo-German cinema director Rainer Werner Fassbinder. A new François Ozon gender-inverted version of Fassbender Petra von Kant’s Bitter Tears It is part hero worship, part deconstruction, a film that somehow extends to the filmmakers’ sensibilities, is at once original and ironic. Ozone gets rid of the serious and sober tone of the latest performances Thanks from God Almighty And the Everything went fine to something akin to lightness flower vase And the 8 women. The result is a fun little if insubstantial slice of FFS (Fassbinder Fan Service).
The Fassbinder original was entirely set in a single apartment in Bremen and centers on a fashion designer (Margi Carstensen), who has a toxic relationship with her mute assistant/slave (Erm Herrmann) before finding all-consuming love with a young woman (Hanna Schygulla, featured here as Peter’s mother) – features a sado-masochistic line that makes 50 shades It seems like bluish.
Set in Cologne and in 1972 (the year of the original film), Ozon slashes close to the original story but with a few significant alterations. Petra von Kant is now Peter von Kant (Menochet), a disliked film director who is struggling to cope with a breakup and write a screenplay for Romy Scheider. Into his life, via his singer (and former lover) Sidonie (Adjani, same gender as her Fassbender counterpart), comes Amir (Khalil Gharbia plays Hanna Schygulla), a brilliant young actor who ignites Peter’s life and right. . In a departure from Fassbender, Ozon plays Peter’s seduction of Amir as a casting session, Peter at one point holds the camera as Amir spins his (possibly fictitious) life story, and the director discovers his newfound inspiration. Doomed relationship written all over it.
This is Menochet’s film, one that evokes Fassbender in form and mood but never satirizes him.
Ozon left “The Bitter Tears” from Peter Von Kant’s title and his film is a less tortured effort, exploiting the film’s original themes (aging, vanity, the destructive nature of film) in a more playful way. Stefan Crepon is on record as von Kant’s butler, saying tons of body language without uttering a word, Isabelle Adjani is a delight as Sidonie, the dull, flamboyant singer incapable of real emotion, and the impossibly good-looking Western bestowing upon the prince the thrill of vulnerability. And harsh cold cruelty. But this is Ménochet’s film, evocative of Fassbinder in looks and mood but never mocking him, brilliant at playing the invigorating exhilaration of new love and the heart-breaking despair of a drama queen – watch him commit perfectly to the ruin dance of the ’70s chanson comme au theatre’.
It lacks the claustrophobic intensity of Fassbender’s original and the thrills of Ozone’s best film – his filmmaking is verdant but rarely thrilling – but Peter von Kant It’s an amusing French language Soft ticket to a German giant. It’s a poignant tribute on a small scale, filled with equal amounts of human tenderness and self-loathing, which may have been exactly what Fassbender wanted.
It may be a minor work from a major filmmaker, but François Ozon’s remix of Werner Fassbender’s Rainer classic has its pleasures, chief among them solid performances across the board, especially from Isabelle Adjani and the formidable Denis Minochet, who embody the German maverick without slipping into impersonation.
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