Chinese Roulette (1976)

Posted By: Someonelse
Chinese Roulette (1976)

Chinesisches Roulette (1976)
A Film by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
DVD5 Custom | ISO | PAL 16:9 | 01:22:20 | 2,16 Gb
Audio: German, Russian - AC3 5.1 @ 448 Kbps (each) | Subs: English, Russian
Genre: Thriller, Drama

Allerson and Carstensen are a happily married, well-to-do Munich couple with a crippled daughter (Andrea Schober). Allerson tells his wife that he is going to Oslo for a weekend business trip; instead, he picks up his French mistress, Karina, and takes her to the castle the family uses as a vacation home. There he finds Carstensen with her lover. They decide that they are all adults and decide to go on with their respective weekends as planned. Son Lommel turns up, manipulating everyone, and Mira appears as a sadistic housekeeper with an androgynous son. Lommel gets them all to play a truth game, and violence results. Excellent Fassbinder film from the director's Douglas Sirk-influenced period.

IMDB

Like most Fassbinder films, it's seemingly simple, but there's a lot too it when you walk a bit closer. This one sets up a great tragicomic situation: a disabled teenager manipulates her parents each to bring their lover to their summer mansion for the weekend. When the father arrives with his lover (Anna Karina, in a very quiet role), he finds his wife pinned to the floor by her boy toy. A bit later the daughter arrives with her caretaker (and possibly her lover?) who is deaf and mute. Mrs. Kast and her blonde son, Gabriel, take care of the mansion, cook, and so forth. Kast is played by Brigitte Mira, who was so wonderful two years earlier in Fassbinder's Fear Eats the Soul. She's a lot more cruel in this one.

Chinese Roulette (1976)

With the situation as it is, their true characters quickly rise to the surface. The parents get the most time; father is loving in his way, but his love is probably only a result of the guilty feelings he has towards his daughter. Mother, on the other hand, is quite the psycho. At one point, as she sees her daughter lumbering along on her crutches from a second story window, she picks up a pistol and aims it at her daughter's back. She uses no euphemisms: her daughter, she believes, has ruined her life.

Chinese Roulette (1976)

Fassbinder's direction is exquisite. His framing is so complex, but it's invented to look simple. The simple set might be called stagey by those who are not paying enough attention. When the four lovers meet, Fassbinder circles the camera around them as they pace around each other, creating a dizzying dance. Peer Raben's gorgeous and unique music also should be pointed out.

Chinese Roulette (1976)

Not everything works out perfectly. The titular game is an interesting idea to do on film. The eight characters split into two groups, the first picks a person in the house and the second has to guess after they've asked a certain number of questions. I think Fassbinder has a difficult time making the questions and answers meaningful for the film as a whole. These exchanges get a little ponderous as a result, and the only thing that keeps the sequence alive is Raben's score. Like I said, it was quite a daring thing to do, so the fact that it doesn't work out perfectly doesn't harm the film too much. 9/10.
IMDB Reviewer
Chinese Roulette (1976)

A cornerstone in the New German Cinema movement, by the mid 1970s, prolific German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder had already produced over twenty-four features for screen and television. With the commercial success of 1971's The Merchant of Four Seasons and the international recognition of Whity, he had moved from his early "anti-theater" work into less theatrical productions, furthering his international reputation with the acclaimed 1974 Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (Angst essen Seele auf), which took the International Critics Prize at Cannes. Originally working under government sponsorship, his approach may have been industrial, but his aesthetic and narrative skills, coupled with his unique perspectives on human observation, create a fascinating body of work. His stage background is not completely dismissed however, as the fourth of his 1976 films, Chinese Roulette (Chinesisches Roulette), uses a traditional introductory framework to set up what is essentially a one set climax, centered around the parlor game the film derives its name from.

Chinese Roulette (1976)

The film opens at the Christ household, where the seeds are planted for this dysfunctional family to face the truths about itself. Husband and wife Gerhard and Ariane are each packing for a weekend trip, purportedly for business matters, but in reality they are heading off with their respective long time lovers. Their affairs are no real secret, but have been veiled by a mutual deception to keep them discreet and inoffensive. While away, their daughter, Angela, a rather spoiled girl crippled since early childhood, is to remain home under the care of her matron, Traunitz, but the young lady has different plans.

Chinese Roulette (1976)

Believing his wife will be out of town and under the guise of going himself, Gerhard instead arranges to meet his mistress, and take her to the family's summer mansion. However, the house already has guests, which Gerhard soon discovers as he interrupts his wife and her lover in the throes of passion on the parlor floor. Their arrival sets off the housekeeper, Kast, a cruel and cranky old woman, who senses foul play in the goings on around the house, as well as her son Gabriel, an aspiring writer, who is hoping to exploit Gerhard's connections to get his work published. The awkward situation is compounded when Angela and Traunitz also arrive later that day, as the stage is laid for a night of suspenseful revelation when Angela suggests playing Chinese Roulette, a team guessing game, setting in motion a provocatively deadly chain of events.

Chinese Roulette (1976)

Fassbinder delivers a riveting psychological thriller here, full of biting humor, bitter ironies and quirky twists. It has a decidedly European feel and resolution, with a wonderful strangeness and depth to its characters. The seemingly simple premise unfolds its layers of complexity, as the motives and intentions of the players come to light. The cast does a great job in creating the tense atmosphere, in particular, Fassbinder staple, Margit Carstensen as the vengeful mother who blames her daughter for ruining her life, and Andrea Schober as the cunning child who manipulates the adults into a frenzy of hatred and bitterness to her own ends.

Chinese Roulette (1976)

The direction is focused and deliberate, the execution enhanced by the ornate location, and the stylistic cinematic flourishes provided by the team of Michael Ballhaus (Satan's Brew) and Horst Knechtel who would follow up with work the director's Bolwieser (The Stationmaster's Wife). With Peer Raben's intriguing score providing the backdrop, many scenes play out in one shot, allowing the actors to interact in a very natural manner, playing off each other while heightening the tension between them with lingering pauses, as the camera sweeps through the set, constantly reframing. If there is a downside, it is perhaps the game itself, which, while an interesting device, tends to drag a bit in its length. While it may not be among the director's most celebrated work, nonetheless, Chinese Roulette provides a darkly humorous tale of family secrets, moral hypocrisy and the seemingly inevitable volatility of the situation.
Chinese Roulette (1976)

Special Features: Just only the film. All other removed.

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