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aka - Angst Vor Der Angst
Germany 1975
Directed by
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
88 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Fear Of Fear

Fassbinder had a tendency to overload his films with stylistic flourishes that often worked against his subject matter. Fear of Fear, which was made for West German television is one of his most successful films (rather ironically, given its withering critique of middle-class "normality) because it stays resolutely focussed on its central character, Margot Staudte, played by Margit Carstensen who was Fassbinder’s finest leading lady although his name is more usually associated with that of the more sexually-provocative Hanna Schygulla.
The story is a portrait of a profoundly alienated young married woman caught in the self-imposed prison of conventional petit-bourgeois society, depicted with bitter glee by Fassbinder. Certainly the Hollywood melodrama provides the over-arching framework of the film but whereas Fassbinder would so often excessively riff on this model, thus challenging the audience’s attention by making self-conscious allusions to its modes of narrative consumption, here his subject and Carstensen’s superbly convincing performance dominates. As a portrait of the deadening conformism of contemporary middle-class society (Fassbinder regulars Birgitte Mira and Irm Hermann are true horrors as Margot’s in-laws) and of Margot’s increasingly desperate attempts to feel anything, even to the point of self-mutilation, Fear Of Fear is a remarkable study of individual angst and is one of the director's most satisfying films

DVD Extras: Fassbinder in Hollywood, a documentary by Robert Fischer; and an essay on the film by Justin Vicari. Available as part of Madman’s excellent 3 disc release, Fassbinder On Melodrama, which also includes Martha and Effi Briest.

Available from: Madman




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