Love Is Colder Than Death was Fassbinder's first feature — and is therefore one of the most important debuts in the history of cinema! Its title also aptly summarizes one of the major themes of his prolific career. Very much of the director's early gangster/Godard period, the film has Fassbinder himself as Franz, a small-time pimp who refuses to join a crime syndicate. Ulli Lommel is Bruno, the dangerous thug sent to change Franz's mind — and whom Franz loves. Fassbinder diva Hanna Schygulla is Joanna, Franz's hooker girlfriend. A nasty series of betrayals and double-crosses ensues as the B-movie plot plays itself out; occasional interludes of tour-de-force comedy and tongue-in-cheek genre send-up serve to lighten what is otherwise a darkly pessimistic, emotionally detached study of another key Fassbinder concern: "characters as victims of an impersonal, alienated society, who blindly, often violently, lash out, defending themselves as best they can against forces beyond their control" (Anna Kuhn). Dedicated to "Claude Chabrol, Eric Rohmer, Jean-Marie Straub, Linio and Cuncho" (the latter two are characters in Quien sabe?, a 1966 Italian film by Damiano Damiani), Love Is Colder met with a hostile reception at the 1969 Berlin fest, where Fassbinder was booed. Dissenters championed it as a debut of Breathless-like proportions. B&W, 35mm, in German with English subtitles. 88 mins.
"The makings of a powerful filmmaker are clearly in evidence."Chicago Reader | full review