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Review: Love Is Colder Than Death

In a futile attempt to win back my business, FilmStruck emailed me a coupon code for an extended free trial period. Seems like an unwise move; a less honest consumer might take advantage of such kindness.

On an unrelated note, I watched Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Love Is Colder Than Death today. I’ve been meaning to acquaint myself with the esteemed German director’s work for a while now, and these two weeks without employment are as good a time as any. In this film, his first feature, you can sense his struggle to find a distinctive authorial voice: the plot, which revolves around a pimp’s efforts to break away from a tyrannical crime syndicate, owes much to American gangster pictures, while the unconventional style and deconstructive tone are a little too reminiscent of Jean-Luc Godard and his French New Wave contemporaries. Yet amidst the self-indulgently long takes and languid lateral tracking shots lie glimmers of brilliance; the opening scene, for example—a lingering static image of our protagonist sitting in a desolate white room, leafing through an impossibly noisy newspaper—gracefully builds tension by leaving a majority of the frame empty, teasing the impending eruption of violence.

It may be rough around the edges, but Love is Colder Than Death is as worthy a cinematic debut as Nolan’s Following or Kurosawa’s Sanshiro Sugata. I look forward to seeing how Fassbinder continued to refine his technique in his subsequent movies.

[Originally written December 19, 2017.]

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