I don't think I've ever seen a film like this before. No, actually, I haven't. It includes an all-female cast (6 women to be exact, of which one remains silent throughout the duration of the film), is set entirely inside one of the women's apartment and does not follow a conventional plot. Any would-be-conventional plot that occurred before/during/after the film is only mentioned in conversation, inside the luxuriously furnished apartment. All these things work together to make The Bitter Tears Of Petra von Kant an oddly great film. Now, I am excited to discover the rest of Fassbinder's filmography.
The aforementioned unconventional plot follows a fashion designer, Petra von Kant, who is assisted by the silent Marlene in her designs. Petra is visited by her cousin Sidonie, whereupon the two women discuss the dissolution of Petra's last marriage and the inner-workings of relationships. Sidonie brings along with her a friend by the name of Karin. Petra is immediately smitten by Karin and invites her back to her apartment the next day under the pretense that Karin will be working for her as a model. Karin arrives as instructed and the two women discuss their childhoods and their motivations. Petra offers to take Karin under her wings. In the next scene, set a few months later, Petra confronts Karin about her infidelity and her disloyalty. Karin leaves Petra to join her husband, leaving the previously-hardened Petra to beg for her love. A few months later, Petra is visited by her daughter, Sidonie and her mother on her birthday. She lashes out at them and breaks down over Karin's abandonment. Petra's mother is shocked to find that her daughter is in love with a woman. The last scene has Petra receiving a call from Karin. Afterwards, Petra approaches her assistant Marlene and apologizes for her past behavior towards her. Marlene finally cracks a smile, kisses Petra's hand and leaves Petra.
|The silent Marlene|