Love Is Colder Than Death | Chicago Reader

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88 minutes · 1969

Rainer Werner Fassbinder's first feature (1969) has that inimitable student-film quality, even though he was repeatedly declined admission to film school in Berlin. Fassbinder plays Franz, a pimp who resists being co-opted by a crime syndicate but befriends Bruno (Ulli Lommel), another thug the syndicate is inducting; after a stint with the organization, Bruno joins Franz and his chattel/girlfriend (Hanna Schygulla) in a small wave of shoplifting and murder. It's hard to integrate the dark emotional tone of the movie with the clumsily postdubbed sound effects, especially when characters appear to die from the sound of gunshots, but the makings of a powerful filmmaker are clearly in evidence. A scene that explores the sexual dynamics of the threesome with very little dialogue and a bold use of music anticipates the masterful combination of simplicity and complexity that would later define Fassbinder's work.

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