Fear of Fear

Fear of Fear

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Rainer Werner Fassbinder directed Fear of Fear for German television some two years after the similarly themed but superior nightmare comedy Martha. Both films feature housewives being driven to insanity by their largely oppressive environments though Fear or Fear counts as the more humanist exercise. If not entirely successful, the film still puts the preening melodrama of The Hours to shame. Margot (Margit Carstensen) finds herself succumbing to a seemingly inexplicable hysteria just weeks before she’s about to give birth to her second child. Easily agitated by her husband Kurt’s dismissals and her daughter Bibi’s whims, Margot loses herself to a crippling fear of fear, which Fassbinder repeatedly and tiresomely suggests by wavering the woman’s sightline. Margot begins to sleep with a local doctor in exchange for bottles of Valium, all the while dodging the bloodshot eyes of a snickering drug addict that she may or may not have shared a past with. Margot’s mother and sister are monsters, seeing fault in her need to cuddle and kiss her children. If Fassbinder fails to provide a proper context for Margot’s bourgeoning insanity during the film’s first half, he later evokes a lecherous society’s desire to squeeze the life out of the woman during her moment of weakness. Whenever Margot steps out of her apartment, Fassbinder repeatedly shoots Carstensen in such a way that brings to mind an irreparably damaged and writhing organism patronized beneath the lens of a microscope. Margot’s decision to drown herself in liquor, drugs, and music (notice the metaphoric use of Leonard Cohen’s “Lover Lover Lover”) is her seductive way out of a banal and carnivorous modern world.

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DVD
Distributor
Westdeutscher Rundfunk
Runtime
88 min
Rating
NR
Year
1975
Director
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Screenwriter
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Cast
Margit Carstensen, Ulrich Faulhaber, Brigitte Mira, Irm Hermman, Armin Meier, Adrian Hoven, Kurt Raab, Ingrid Caven, Lilo Pempeit, Helga Maerthesheimer, Herbert Steinmetz, Mark Bohm, Constanze Haas