With slicked-down hair and three-piece suits, dependable Herr Raab is a technical draftsman. He gets along with his colleagues although his boss wants him to go beyond technical cleanliness... See full summary »
With slicked-down hair and three-piece suits, dependable Herr Raab is a technical draftsman. He gets along with his colleagues although his boss wants him to go beyond technical cleanliness to problem solving. He's a dutiful husband; his wife's a social climber and pushes him to seek a promotion, but they also share sweet moments. He's a caring father, helping his son with homework. His parents visit; his mother criticizes his wife. Old School friends drop by, as do neighbors. Some comment on Raab's wife's expensive tastes. His promotion may be a long shot, especially after he gives a dull and tipsy toast at an office dinner. But why would Herr Raab run amok? Written by
In 2003 on a interview for Village Voice Hanna Schygulla claimed that this film was completely done by co-director Michael Fengler and Rainer Werner Fassbinder had nothing to do with the actual film. She also claimed that film was almost completely improvised which wasn't Fassbinder's way to make movies. Fassbinder still is credited as director and writer on the actual film and on many official sources, including Fassbinder Foundation's website. See more »
When Herr R. leaves the doctor the camera team can be seen in the mirror on the wall. See more »
not easy to sit through, but has some surprising rewards
I kind of wish I didn't know before watching Why Does Herr R Run Amok? that there was the distinct possibility- pointed by a quote on IMDb's trivia by co-star Hanna Schygulla- that Rainer Werner Fassbinder may have had *nothing* to do with with this film, considered by some to be one of his best. It made me think, from time to time watching, it, if maybe this point was correct, considering a) Fassbinder usually doesn't do improvisation, as it would appear this film does to the point where one wonders if a script was even used (was this, in fact, one of the first "mumblecore" movies?) and b) why his usual cast agreed to do it if it was only run by Michael Fengler (who, in his defense, also collaborated on The Niklashausen Journey and may be a capable producer in his own right).
Because, frankly, this isn't like the Fassbinder you would be used to after seeing, for example, the BDR trilogy or Fear Eats the Soul. It's as if Fassbinder and/or Fengler contracted Al Maysles to follow an 'average' middle-class German family, the father and architect and the wife a, uh, house-wife I guess, with an 'average' child. The style of dialog is improvisation, and the camera-work reflects this with the "cienema verite" approach. Indeed there may be only about 30 actual shots in the whole film; it's a series of long takes as the DP, Dietrich Lohmann, goes around a room and zooms in or out based on a feeling here or there or something that may be of interest (such as the desperation Herr R tries his best to hide in most scenes).
What happens with this style, for better or worse, is that we get into the daily grind, the mundane conversations in a living room or in a car (i.e. car repairs), a trip to the school for a talk with the teacher about the kid, or a trip to the not-totally sympathetic doctor, or the embarrassing toast that Herr R makes in front of his co-workers and boss. There is the mundane, and its so much that one starts to get into this mood. There is a drawback if one isn't ready/willing/able to be in this style; not a lot "happens" in the film until, of course, the frighteningly sudden climax of the "Amok" part of the title. Indeed there's something to this that draws in the audience with the characters; there's a scene where Herr R, his wife, their son and a couple of friends are walking along on a road, and it goes on for so long (both the shot and the slow walk) we, as well as the parents, don't realize that the son has gone off on his own and don't know where he ventured off.
Herr R. is an emotional story, but it's a little hard to penetrate. But for those who are patient and attentive there are some great rewards. One of these is Kurt Raab's performance (who, by the way, is also called Mr. Raab in the film, which adds to the confusion of whether this is documentary or fiction, or both at the same time); it's a performance that is tricky but works very well, full of subtlety and restraint, eyes darting carefully and physical expressions to the dot meant with importance. The performance is improvised, but there's nothing I can see that wasn't thought through to be on the screen by Fassbinder and/or Fengler. And it's this character, if nothing else, that marks it as the indicator of it being from RW; it's about the alienation of an outsider, someone in such a mundane world, so "normal" that there is barely any expression of individuality, of anything outside of a "norm" being seen as anything except quiet (or not so quiet) scorn. This is set up from the start with the characters telling the jokes, and Herr R's going flat with everyone else.
It's basically a super-low budget experiment in reality-as-drama, about the emptiness of a class system that allows people to live comfortably and with some semblance of peace, but also a form of life that can be shattered so easily and with such terror. The ending, indeed, can only be really comparable to the likes of Haneke's Cache for its random, existential impact. The more one lets Herr R in, the more this world is horrible and cruel and desperate. Not the brightest of times to have, but worthwhile all the same.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?