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Despair

Director:  Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Year Released:  1978
Rating:  1.5

Russian-born chocolate tycoon Hermann Hermann (Dirk Bogarde), living in pre-WWII Berlin with his (unfaithful) wife Lydia (Andréa Ferréol), sees his own "double" and concocts a ridiculous plan to fake his own death ... as one might expect, "perfect murders" are difficult to pull off successfully. It's so campy and cartoonish more than once I wondered whether Paul Morrissey had a hand in directing it ... but no, it's just Fassbinder mailing it in: it's less about conditions in Germany during the rise of anti-Semitism and more about how silly Bogarde and Ferréol can act and how many 'clever' one-liners Tom Stoppard can toss in the script. Since it's based on a novel by Vladimir Nabokov, don't expect a flattering portrait of women; following this debacle, Fassbinder would correct himself and direct two masterpieces (The Marriage of Maria Braun and Berlin Alexanderplatz) before his own excesses took him from us.

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