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Germany 1981
Directed by
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
113 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Lola (1981)

Loosely based on Josef von Sternberg’s silent-era classic The Blue Angel, Lola tells the story of an upright new building commissioner, Von Bohm (Armin Mueller Stahl), who falls for Lola, cabaret artiste, courtesan and the mistress of Herr Shuckert (Mario Adorf), an unscrupulous property developer and exemplar of Germany’s post-war “economic miracle”. An idealist, Von Bohm at first resists Lola’s charms but is eventually drawn into the vortex of corruption by a desire he is unable to resist.

Barbara Sukowa who plays Lola is no Marlene Dietrich and the film never creates the sense of erotically-driven doom so effectively realized by von Sternberg, because, as with his earlier film, Fassbinder is at such pains to make his socio-political critique. The film is in many ways a Brechtian reworking of Fassbinder's 1970 film The Marriage of Maria Braun and many of the critical elements of that film, in particular the intertwining of sex and money, reappear here. However whilst the earlier film by and large adhered to the convention of narrative drama, Lola is a florid morality play, infusing the cabaret setting of The Blue Angel with the Hollywood Technicolor style of '50s melodrama of which the director was so fond as to take to intentional extremes. Time has made the socio-political criticism less cogent and whether enough remains of intrinsic interest to sustain non-Fassbinderians will be a debatable point.

DVD Extras: Audio commentary by Dr Ken Moulden, Department of Germanic Studies, University of Sydney.

Available from: Madman




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