Peter von Kant Image

Peter von Kant

By Michael Talbot-Haynes | September 21, 2022

With Peter Von Kant, Ozon has delivered the best Fassbinder homage movie since the unforgettable A Man Like Eva. The gender changes from the 1972 original make total sense, especially since the professor who showed this to me in college told us to imagine the Lesbians were secretly drag queens like in a Jean Genet play. It is easy to see the events in Fassbinder’s personal life providing the material for The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, so by altering it to be basically about Fassbinder, the film allows the subtext of the original to become the main text. It is exhilarating, especially as Ozon has distilled the original script from a lumbering two-plus hour affair to a swift 85 minutes. There is also this conceit where a movie set in Germany about Germans is done entirely in French. The effect is delightful.

Ozon has an advantage Fassbinder didn’t in 1972 of being able to draw from the director’s entire oeuvre for allusions, particularly his late period flourishes. The dazzling color lighting, particularly near the self-destructive climax, looks just like what Fassbinder was churning out in 1981. The magnificent production design by Katia Wyszkop is highly detailed and engrossing, with paintings and mirrors put to awesome use. Honestly, who wouldn’t want a wall-sized portrait of Isabelle Adjani in their house? That’s right, Adjani from Herzog’s Dracula plays Sidonie. What an honor that we have another picture with her. She delivered what I feel is the best performance ever by an actress in Zulawski’s phenomenal Possession. What makes it so eerie is her character is supposed to reference cinema icon Hanna Schygulla, who is also in this.

“…dazzling…magnificent…”

God, I love this movie. With Schygulla’s presence, we get that rare treat of a performance where the performer interacted with the real-life person they are portraying, like Ozzie Davis doing JFK in Bubba Ho-Tep. As if the cavalcade of Euro Actress royalty wasn’t enough, we also have the powerhouse work of Ménochet. The man oozes Fassbinder from his pores. It is an incredible transformation, where the actor radiates the passion and intensity that enflames the real-life person’s ceaseless appetites. His vulnerability is so raw you can taste pennies in your mouth.

The uninitiated may wonder what the fuss is about, but for the true Fassbinder Heads out there, Peter von Kant is a revelation. Ozon has made one of the best homages to a master filmmaker ever made.

Peter von Kant (2022)

Directed and Written: François Ozon

Starring: Denis Ménochet, Khalil Ben Gharbia, Isabelle Adjani, Hanna Schygulla, Stefan Crepon, etc.

Movie score: 10/10

Peter von Kant Image

"…the best Fassbinder homage..."

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