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Rainer Werner Fassbinder's distant, episodic study of the sad, turgid last days of an unhappy transsexual. There's none of the allegorical cushioning he provided in The Marriage of Maria Braun: Elvira (seamlessly played by Volker Spengler) is irreducibly, ineluctably him/herself, and her problems are not social, political, or moral, but exclusively those of her grotesque condition—the unloved lover. The subject invites easy compassion and pity, but Fassbinder's icy camera style keeps us at arm's length, calling up a much more complex response. With Ingrid Caven, Eva Mattes, and Gottfried John.

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