As the saying goes, the flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long. That was certainly the case with one of Germany’s greatest film directors. Rainer Werner Fassbinder made his first feature film in 1969 at the age of twenty-four. Thirteen years and Twenty-two films later, he was found dead in his room. As a filmmaker, he was a workhorse; never stopping and always moving from one project to the next. He fuelled this productivity with a constant cocktail of booze and drugs, which would eventually be his downfall.
Enfant Terrible, the new biopic of Fassbinder’s life from Oskar Roehler, is a no holds barred re-telling of the Bavarian’s life story. Oliver Masucci fills the maestro’s boots with an unfaltering bravery and unflinching gaze. We start at Munich’s Anti-Theatre, where our auteur takes over control of a production, steamrolling anyone who gets in his way. This sets the tone for the rest of his career. He wasn’t a man who suffered fools or tolerated anyone he perceived as a ‘dead weight’ or hanger-on.
Filmed in an eccentric and heightened theatrical style, Enfant Terrible is a fitting tribute to a man who was never interested in civilities or social niceties. Despite being noticeably older than the rather frazzled director, Masucci delivers a full-blooded and believable performance. Albeit, one which delivers on the highs but never quite marries the lows with the German’s undoubtable charisma. Enfant Terrible is the kind of biographical film Fassbinder might even have tolerated! Might.
Enfant Terrible screened at Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival.