Love Is Colder Than Death

  • 1969
  • 1 HR 25 MIN
  • NR
  • Crime, Drama

Rainer Werner Fassbinder's first feature film is set in a punishing German underworld where there is no honor among thieves. Despite torture and threats, small-time pimp Franz (Fassbinder) refuses to join the Syndicate. While being held at Syndicate headquarters, he bonds with another captive, Bruno (director-to-be Ulli Lommel); confident that he'll be freed,...read more

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Reviewed by Robert Pardi
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Rainer Werner Fassbinder's first feature film is set in a punishing German underworld where there is no honor among thieves. Despite torture and threats, small-time pimp Franz (Fassbinder) refuses to join the Syndicate. While being held at Syndicate headquarters, he bonds with another captive, Bruno (director-to-be Ulli Lommel); confident that he'll be freed, Franz asks Bruno to look him

up in Munich. Though the Syndicate does indeed release Franz after failing to break his spirit, they plan to draw him into their sphere of influence. Bruno does indeed call on Franz, who's living with his prostitute girlfriend, Joanna (Hanna Schygulla); what Franz doesn't know is that the Syndicate has hired Bruno to gain Franz's trust and punish his refusal to join by murdering Joanna. Bruno goes to extreme lengths to prove his loyalty to Bruno: After they plan a bank robbery, coldly eliminates anyone who could link them to the crime, including the dealer who sold them their guns, one of Joanna's tricks and the motorcycle cop who stopes them for a routine traffic offense. The drama comes to a climax at the Bavarian State Bank, where Franz is forced to choose between Joanna and Bruno. Although the writer-director Fassbinder captures the fatalism of his low-life characters — the survivors look so shell-shocked that seem to envy the dead — this film is too stylized and protracted to interest the average crime-movie fan. It's recommended only for Fassbinder completists.

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