A Movie Log

A blog formerly known as Bookishness

By Charles Matthews

Friday, July 28, 2017

Lola (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1981)

Barbara Sukowa in Lola
Lola: Barbara Sukowa
Von Bohm: Armin Mueller-Stahl
Schuckert: Mario Adorf
Esslin: Matthias Fuchs
Fräulein Hettich: Helga Feddersen
Lola's Mother: Karin Baal
Frau Schuckert: Rosel Zech

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Screenplay: Pea Fröhlich, Peter Märtesheimer, Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Cinematography: Xaver Schwarzenberger
Production design: Raúl Gimenez, Rolf Zehetbauer
Costume design: Barbara Baum, Egon Strasser

A key part of Rainer Werner Fassbinder's trilogy of films satirizing the manners, morals, and excesses of the Wirtschaftswunder, Lola is a conscious updating of Josef von Sternberg's 1930 classic The Blue Angel, in which a cabaret singer (read: prostitute) leads a schoolteacher into self-destruction. But in this case, Lola leads a conscientious public official, the new building commissioner in a West German town, into compromising his principles, its own kind of self-destruction. Filmed in retina-traumatizing color, with sets and costumes that plunge into the very heart of kitsch, Lola almost makes the Sirkian melodrama of The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979) and the camp excesses of Veronika Voss (1982), the other films in the trilogy, look tame. It is, perhaps, too obviously a political and social fable about corrupt times -- the late 1950s, anything-goes period in the German economy -- to the extent that neither of its supposed principals, Lola and Von Bohm, seem fully realized characters: Their motives shift with the exigencies of the plot. The one really well-drawn character in the film is the scheming, amoral Schuckert, who exploits everyone, especially Lola, for his own advantage. But to ask for anything so inhibiting as consistency from Fassbinder is to diminish his unmatched ability to amaze.

Watched on Filmstruck Criterion Channel

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