Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974)


Rainer Werner-Fassbinder directs  Brigitte Mira, El Hedi Ben Salem and Barbara Valentin in this drama about an ageing German who begins a universally frowned upon romance with a young African immigrant.

Still not fully got my head around Fassbinder as an auteur. His theatrical staging and stilted rhythm stop me from getting lost in his melodramas. Yet he has a non judgmental view of humanity that is rare in cinema. All his population are prone to sin, erratic in their behaviours, fools for love, and brutish in their ability to hurt. This sweet and flawed romance is very endearing, the casual racism it is met with familiar, yet never over the top even when being satirically petulant. With his childish talk and his base urges, Ali isn’t exactly a progressive view of the other. He just wants affection and cous-cous. Is there anything wrong with wanting to feel at home? Even when it means straying from your home? Brilliant seventies colours and frank attitudes win you over. This is easily the best film I’ve seen by the German cokefiend who loved warping “Women’s Pictures”.




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