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Quick-Thoughts: Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972)

Someone must’ve had to sell their soul to the devil to achieve this quality of camerawork. 

Long takes can either come off as a hyperventilated ploy or cinema’s most gifted trend. In the case of The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, the practice is used to god-like effect. In Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s feature-length, suffering literally reeks off the screen.  Not only will Margit Carstensen’s performance have you buried into a grave pulp, but the conclusion of every sequence in this motion picture will have your throat strapped tight as you witness some of cinema’s most ominous characters chuck shade at one another until these two hours of media start to feel like a lifetime of hysteria.

As disrupting as The Bitter Tears’ time jumping can be in terms of contextual believability or off-putting a couple of its racial comments are, which simply do not hold up in the slightest, it’s no secret that I still ended up f***ing floored by every other aspect of this movie. The drama here between two lovers, one self-absorbed and one scandalous, plus an insightful dazzle of tension from an additional spectating character, is just too top-tier to ignore! It’s a feat composed of only 5 scenes taking place in 1 room. Yeah, this movie is wild. 

I love, love, love where Fassbinder places actors as well; it’s all very gratifying composition. I have a gut feeling that he was inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s Persona, and proceedingly, I can only assume that Bergman’s Autumn Sonata must’ve then been inspired by The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant. What a cute exchange of filmmaking minds. 

And, yes, Petra is indeed a simp. 

Verdict: A-

“The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant” is now available to stream on The Criterion Channel.

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