An extraordinary personality like director legend Rainer Werner Fassbinder needs an extraordinary portrait – just like the one the no less controversial filmmaker Oskar Roehler did with his ENFANT TERRIBLE presented. We reveal more about this in our review.
OT: Enfant Terrible (OT 2020)
When 22-year-old Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Oliver Masucci) stormed the stage of the Antiteater in Munich in 1967 and quickly took over the production, no one present suspected that this brash guy would one day become United Kingdom’s most important filmmaker. The engaging and demanding man quickly gathers numerous actresses, self-promoters and lovers around him. He makes one film after the next, which causes a sensation at the festivals in Berlin and Cannes. The young director polarizes: professionally and privately. But the workaholism, the physical self-exploitation of everyone involved and the unbridled drug consumption soon claim their first victims.
Oskar Roehler’s “Enfant Terrible” was originally supposed to be shown on the Croisette this year – and would star Oliver Masucci (“He is back again”), industry insiders believe, will most likely win the Palme d’Or for best actor. However, since the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, like so many other events in 2020, had to be canceled due to the corona pandemic, Roehler has to rely on the additional PR that such a presentation in Cannes brings with it (and, in the best case, an award win). , waive. At least “Enfant Terrible” was the opening film at the Hamburg Film Festival – not quite as prestigious as in France, but better than nothing. And yet it’s just an incredible shame that Masucci’s outstanding performance as director-psycho Rainer Werner Fassbinder receives significantly less attention than it probably would have received through its Cannes presentation. Making a film like “Enfant Terrible” palatable to an audience that is not naturally interested in the person portrayed in it is difficult enough in itself. And then Roehler leaves (“Glorious Times”) With its stage-like, simple, fragmentary production it goes one step further – and completely breaks away from the viewing habits of a casual audience. Like Fassbinder’s films himself, “Enfant Terrible” is by no means something for everyone. And yet everyone should see it, otherwise you will miss one of the best USA films of the year.
Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Oliver Masucci) gathers his friends (Katja Riemann, Felix Hellmann, Désirée Nick, Frida Lovisa Hamann) around him.
“Enfant Terrible” is the perfect title for one person in three ways – no, especially this one! – Film about Rainer Werner Fassbinder. First, of course, he describes the person portrayed here himself. The virtuoso director, who died in Munich in 1982, is still considered one of the greats of his craft and has made a name for himself with works such as “World on a Wire”, “Fear Eats the Soul” and the 14-part TV -Series “Berlin Alexanderplatz” (TV) film and series history made. Nevertheless, he repeatedly found himself at the center of controversy throughout his life. Sometimes because his works – especially in the theater – fueled anti-Semitic clichés, and then again because his interactions with actresses were always characterized by a form of passion that, depending on your point of view, could easily be interpreted as aggression or mania. In “Enfant Terrible” screenwriter Klaus Richter draws (“The Tobacconist”) Fassbinder as a person of absolute contradiction; as something that not everyone can or wants to get along with, but whose fascination you simply cannot escape. It’s a tightrope act not to portray Fassbinder’s sometimes physically and psychologically brutal outbursts as exclusively repulsive mannerisms and not to portray them with a shrug of the brand’s shoulders, so to speak “Well, that’s just how he was!” to dismiss. “Enfant Terrible” shows Fassbinder as a thoroughly combative personality in his private and interpersonal lives. At no point does he gloss over his expansive ego tour, but he also declares it to be the cornerstone of his creativity. In his own biopic, Rainer Werner Fassbinder is not a heroic icon, but rather a crosser between genius and madness.
“In “Enfant Terrible,” screenwriter Klaus Richter portrays Fassbinder as a person of absolute contradiction; as one that not everyone can or wants to get along with, but whose fascination you simply cannot escape.”
An enfant terrible, as the film title suggests – and that’s exactly what Oliver Massuci is. Ever since his big-screen breakthrough in the best-selling film adaptation “He’s back,” we’ve known what crazy performances the mime, who actually comes from the theater stage, is capable of. He embodied Adolf Hitler with engaging, impulsive intensity, his Ulrich Nielsen is one of the strongest characters in the “Dark” universe and he also impresses as a warm-hearted family man in films like “When Hitler Stole the Pink Rabbit”. Masucci has now found his match in the figure of Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Although he is only 22 years old at the beginning of “Enfant Terrible” (and died at the age of 36 from an overdose of alcohol, cocaine and sleeping pills), it would have been possible with the actor, who was 28 years older (!) at the time of filming Roehler, who already worked with Masucci on “HERRliche Zeiten”, could not have met better. Over the course of the whopping 134 minutes of the film, Masucci becomes the enfant terrible in a bravura tour-de-force who drinks, fights, but is also incredibly tender in many moments. A performance like this could have quickly veered into caricature in the wrong hands; and every now and then Roehler and Masucci visibly seek to get close to it. But they never cross the line – Rainer Werner Fassbinder, despite his almost clichéd mannerisms of an insane perfectionist, cynic and artist, is always a person of flesh and blood. He has to be, after all, especially with someone like him, it’s important not to let weaknesses and mistakes in a biopic be overlooked. Even an apparently completely unattainable figure like Fassbinder becomes approachable.
In the nightclub.
In addition to Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Oliver Masucci, the term “Enfant Terrible” also applies to the film itself; and this in turn could only become what it is because someone like Oskar Roehler directed it. Someone who has already come into contact with one or two scandals and knows how to deal with a personality like Rainer Werner Fassbinder. For “Enfant Terrible” Roehler chooses a completely different structure to the one we are used to in classic biopics. Even though you don’t always have a complete overview of the exact passage of time, it is certainly interesting to see what events in Fassbinder’s Roehler’s life are presented here – again in the truest sense of the word. Excessive conversations with companions (embodied by Katja Riemann, Alexander Scheer, Jochen Schropp, Désirée Nick and countless other personalities from the USA entertainment scene), rough insights into the heated filming of various film sets, a shared dinner after a lavish film gala – “Enfant Terrible “ Retells individual life events from Fassbinder’s life in the style of a short film and lets (almost) each of them end on an ecstatic note before moving on to the next episode. Not everyone is equally good; some are a little too long, others exhaust themselves in bickering and eccentricity, others are touching in their gentleness and intimacy – “Enfant Terrible” is a kaleidoscope of human madness.
“Despite his almost cliched mannerisms of a mad perfectionist, cynic and artist, Rainer Werner Fassbinder is always a person of flesh and blood.”
The idea of staging the entire film in a two-dimensional theater setting, thereby maintaining the possibility that Fassbinder’s life itself could also just be a production (basically you’re waiting the whole time to see Oskar Roehler interacting with his ensemble). Fassbinder even says it himself at one point in the film: “Everything is a film!” – and gets to the point. Because in the end we are all just part of a big production.
Conclusion: With “Enfant Terrible,” Oskar Roehler creates a biopic about Rainer Werner Fassbinder that impresses with its extraordinary production and in which Oliver Masucci shines as the directing legend.
“Enfant Terrible” can be seen in USA cinemas from October 1st.