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  • Writer's pictureJohn Parker

Lola Blu-ray review

In one of his final films, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, the enfant-terrible of German cinema, took another vicious swipe at his favourite subject; the moral vacuum of post-war West Germany. A phenomenally prolific filmmaker – Fassbinder had over 40 directorial credits when he died at the age of 37 – this lurid and cine-literate romp about the patrons and whores of an upscale brothel is arguably his masterpiece.

Set in the 1950s, the film explores the profitable rebuilding of a German city. A property developer, Schukert (Mario Adorf) is the owner of a brothel, where the local politicians, deal-makers, city officials, police, journalists, and bankers are all entertained. It is within these four walls where they make the corrupt deals to make them all rich and prosperous men. This is all witnessed by Lola (Barbara Sukowa) who is the star singer in the cabaret, and Schukert’s favourite girl in the rooms upstairs.

The schemes of Schukert and the others are interrupted by the arrival of Von Bohm (the wonderful Armin Mueller-Stahl) an idealistic and morally-centred new building commissioner. When Lola hears about this man, she decides she wants to meet him, and Schukert sees an opportunity to compromise Von Bohm.

Lola and Von Bohm begin a genuine and affectionate courtship, though he is of course completely unaware of what she does for a living. He is also unaware that his housekeeper is Lola’s mother, and that the young girl is Lola’s illegitimate child with Schukert. Lola’s seduction of this decent man, this refugee from East Prussia, tells you everything you need to know about Fassbinder’s attitude to the post-fascist society and corrupting nature of West Germany.

Without doubt his most technically accomplished film, Lola is a stylistic triumph.Drenched in colour, the film emerges as the love child of New Wave Pop Art and 50s melodrama. This 4K digital restoration looks sensational, adding incredible clarity to Fassbinder’s lurid aesthetic. Politically vital and visually stunning, this terrific new release is the perfect gateway into the remarkable back catalogue of Rainer Werner Fassbinder. A distinctive and provocative classic.

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