This film is easily director Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s finest work. It’s a remake of Douglas Sirk’s All That Heaven Allows, but it’s a good remake. Fassbinder pays homage to Sirk’s film while doing his own thing without any intention of replacing the original.
The film begins when an old woman enters a bar frequented by Arab workers. At the suggestion of one of the ladies, a man named Ali decides to dance with the old woman who is clearly lonely. He goes home with her and because of the weather stays the night. The next morning they part, but end up being drawn back together.
The two end up marrying, but their problems began the moment a young Moroccan man began dancing with an old German woman. Those issues never really resolve for anyone else, but by the end both have been pushed to the limit and come back. In the end, we don’t know what will become of them.
It’s a beautiful love story that takes on a whole new poignancy when you find out that in real life Rainer Werner Fassbinder was homosexual and the man who played the Moroccan (El Hedi Ben Salem) was his lover. The couple in the film is really them. They both killed themselves separately in 1982.
This film makes me cry even more when I realize that we haven’t made must progress in the 35 years since it’s release. We’ve only gotten more polite and that politeness has been tested during the past 10 years often collapsed. I highly recommend this film to anyone, maybe it will do some good.