Sunday, November 11, 2007

Warum läuft Herr R. Amok? (Why Does Herr R. Run Amok?)

Fassbinder himself described this movie as “the most disgusting film I ever made” and well he is the co-director and he knows very well why he’s saying this.

Never seen a movie that so cleverly shows mediocrity in the everyday life of an average middle class man that has an average job with average colleagues, average boss and an average family. Let me tell you more. See Herr R. (Kurt Raab) has a wife and a child, a medium-size rental apartment, he owns a TV set, and comfortable furniture completes his middle class existence. His work at home and in the office fulfills him, hobbies offer him a change; and then Herr R. loves peace and quiet. The machinery of everyday routine functions. At work – Herr R. is an engineering draftsman – the colleagues are nice, his boss (Franz Maron) is content, his wife (Lilith Ungerer) picks him up every day after work in their car. He corrects his son’s homework, invites the in-laws and an old school friend on Sunday afternoons, a promotion is in sight. Everyone is happy. It appears that without too much mental or physical complaint, Herr R.’s self-realization will be possible. Then one evening – a neighbor (Irm Hermann) has just stopped by – Herr R., like a machine, attacks his wife, child, and neighbor. Okay I gave spoilers, but with a title like that you surely guessed what the movie is about before I told you.

That’s exactly what you will see and it will be absolutely boring. While you watch scene after scene and hear dialogue after dialogue, you will be bored to death and sometimes, only sometimes you will laugh at the jokes and feel excited about the good possibilities Herr R has for the future. You almost want to kill the DVD and the TV. But then, that’s exactly what Herr R lives and does in this film with mainly improvised dialogues, so when the movie is over you realize that you end up being him. Extraordinary! After all, is you the viewer who will be able to answer the question that the movie title asks, with all your reactions to Herr R tedious, bland and insipid life.

I don’t know about you readers but I always disliked mediocrity, average, the middle, the median, and so many other words used to describe that someone or something belongs to what predominates. I always found it boring and disgusting. So is no surprise if I absolutely agree with co-director and script draft co-writer Rainer Werner Fassbinder that this film is very disgusting.

But is such an extraordinary film that if you sustain its totality and reach the end you will be able to feel how average or conventionalism can be deadly fatal. Okay I’ll say it; the film is a very caustic critique to middle class.

This film absolutely is not for all audiences and those that enjoy serious cinema perhaps half will love it and half will hate it. Me, I love it even if it was quite hard to reach the end… perhaps as hard as it was for Herr R.


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