NOW IN THEATERS! Fresh, fabulous film feats to feed Fassbinder fanatics abound in writer-director François Ozon’s fantastic Peter von Kant. Ozon wrote the screenplay based on Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s famous play, The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant. The original story was about the rise and fall of the relationship between a famous older Lesbian and an up-and-coming bisexual young woman. In Ozon’s version, the women are rewritten as men, with other characteristics enhanced and refined to reflect the real life of the auteur behind the original.
Peter Von Kant (Denis Ménochet) is a famous film director living in Germany in the 1970s. Today, he’s woken from a stupor by a phone call from his mother, Rosemarie (Hanna Schygulla), asking for money. Peter’s mute servant Karl (Stefan Crepon) silently types up a copy of Peter’s screenplay while seeing to his needs. He gets a visit from Sidonie (Isabelle Adjani), an actress he helped turn into a superstar. They have drinks and commiserate about Peter’s lover leaving him. Sidonie peps him up by sharing some of her cocaine with him. She mentions having a friend meet her at Peter’s, a young man entering the scene named Amir Ben Salem (Khalil Ben Gharbia). Peter is smitten with Amir and invites him to visit again.
“Peter is smitten with Amir and invites him to visit again.”
Peter von Kant then jumps ahead many months, landing feet first in bicker town. Peter has turned Amir into a big star, and Amir repays him by having anonymous sex throughout the city. They fight and argue, brutally pressing each other’s buttons. As Amir’s star rises, Peter descends into a landscape of heartache with rivers of booze flowing between rolling hills of cocaine.
I am a total fiend for Fassbinder. I’m cuckoo about him the same way a lot of people are nuts about Star Wars. More than any other filmmaker, Fassbinder embodies the director as a rebel against reality. He was punk years before it was even a thing; a glorious force of nature made up of leather, leopard skin, and obsession. Openly queer and deliciously alienated, he carved out a frontier for the rejected in the art-house world. Personifying the adage of “work hard, play hard” while unapologetically consuming gargantuan amounts of cocaine, Fassbinder wrote and directed more films than the years he managed to stay alive before dying tragically young at 37.