Margot, who lives in a comfortable middle class apartment, fears that she is losing her mind after having had her second child. Her husband Kurt, who is busy studying for an exam, does not understand her situation. She resorts to valium and drink, and looks for sympathy, but to no avail.
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My position (perhaps provocative) is that Margit Carstensen is a superior lead to Hanna Schygulla. The admittedly divine tragicomic histrionics of the final third of PETRA VON KANT are perhaps superseded by the sustained simmering ennui of the TV movies MARTHA and FEAR OF FEAR. The latter might be the ultimate Fassbinder in that it depicts perception itself as imprisoning and brutalizing. Society destroys cellularly.
A high tragic ride through depression, aniexty, and the normalcy of life! Shapes of cassavettes seeps through the narrative but this is a darker beast than anything cassavette's depicted. This is more horror than most horror films. Poor Margot is trapped within circumstance but the audience doesn't even know what to do. Maybe just freak out and listen to Leonard Cohen with her! Once again, Fassbinder made madness!
with the swagger of the rebellious and the subversive, fassbinder critiques german middle-class - to the german middle-class, through the homely comfort of television. much better than you'd expect for a telemovie and one whose already excoriating temperament is further underlined when watched with its companion piece, "why does herr. r run amok?".
It's tempting to want to compare this to Cassavetes' Woman. It's certainly more taut & precise. But it's also less purely a social critique (though it is that), making it something else entirely. This is RWF's trademark deep-but-merciless objective empathy, unveiling the psychology* that even allows for that oppressive bourgeois normativity (see title). Caven is perfect as the ne plus ultra of valium-era victims.
Reminding one of Sartre's "Nausea", this film has a strong 20th century existentialist premise, but the strange, unmoving, overly dramatic style of acting combined with uninspired sounds - that seem to come from the early 'romantic' era of Hollywood - make this minor Fassbinder film rather unimportant.