The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant will forever be remembered as one of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s finest melodramas. The story of an arrogant fashion designer who lures two unsuspecting women into her decadent apartment to form a bizarre love triangle.
This multi-layered masterpiece has inspired many offspring, the latest being Nicolas Wackerbarth’s Casting, which depicts a director’s (Judith Engel) struggle with getting to grips with the enigmatic work and bringing it to TV. This quasi-remake revels in the duplicity of its characters, veiling their motivations and desires under bullet-proof dialogue and subdued performances.
The ensemble cast keep the audience on its toes with undeniable chemistry and a deft manner of applying the themes of the source material to a new context. However, this is not a Fassbinder film; emotions are not flaunted but rather buried and more is said in pregnant pauses than in hysterical diatribes. The essence of Fassbinder is present but is cut up and dissected for fun and science.
Visually, Casting leaves almost everything to be imagined. The biggest trap of all movies about theatre is believing that the audience will meet you halfway when it comes to suspending their disbelief as they do with a stage play. Far removed from the lavish interiors of Fassbinder’s opus, here the viewer endures dull dressing room after banal stage and back again. With little or no visual flourishes, one is reluctant to dig through the layers of muted performance to empathise with the characters.
Casting delivers an interesting and modern approach to the classic melodrama but has trouble standing on its own two legs as a legitimate work in its own right. Struggling to get out of first gear, Wackerbath and his fine cast spend most of the film pondering inwardly instead of projecting and developing.
Casting does not have a UK release date yet.
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