In post-war West Germany, the charming Von Bohm is appointed a city's new Building Commissioner. His morality is tested when he unknowingly falls in love with a brothel worker, Lola, the paid mistress of a corrupt property developer.
Ten years after the war, West Germany's market economy is booming. Into an unnamed city that's rife with corruption comes a new building commissioner, Herr von Bohm, committed to progress but also upright. He's smitten by Marie-Louise, a single mother who's his landlady's daughter. Von Bohm does not realize she is also Lola, a singer at a bordello and the mistress of Schuckert, a local builder whose profits depend on von Bohm's projects. When von Bohm discovers Marie-Louise's real vocation and looks closely at Schuckert's work, will this social satire play out as a remake of "Blue Angel," a visit of Chekhov to West Germany, or an update of Jean Renoir's "Rules of the Game"?Written by
Part of the BRD Trilogy along with The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979) and Veronika Voss (1982). "BRD" stands for Bundesrepublik Deutschland, the official name of West Germany and of the united contemporary Germany, period in which those three stories takes place. See more »
The photograph above the mayor's desk shows downtown Houston, Texas as it looked in the 1960s. The film is set in the late 1950s. See more »
West Germany, late 1950s: Lola (Barbara Sukowa) is a singing prostitute working in a brothel that the town's bigwigs, even the mayor, like to frequent. To the annoyance of the corrupt construction entrepreneurs, especially a crass man named Schukert (Mario Adorf), the town's new building commissioner von Bohm (Armin Mueller-Stahl) is an honest and idealistic man who tries to clean up the building license politics from bribery and cheating. One day Lola approaches von Bohm, piques his interest and eventually leads him to dream of marriage with her – but how will he react when Lola's true profession is eventually revealed?
Lola was my first Fassbinder film, so I don't know how it compares to his other works or the other two films in the BRD trilogy, but I can say that I was impressed by the unique style. Almost all of the scenes are lit with very bright and coloured lights, frequently painting the characters in different colours even when in the same frame. The music is also light in tone, often highly comedic, making the serious-sounding tale of corruption appear as silly and petty games of fooling each other. Various characters also provide plenty of over-the-top comedy; particularly Schukert whose dancing in the brothel with the singing Lola on his shoulders provides perhaps the most outrageous scene in the whole film. Nevertheless, it's not all comedy, as the characters' serious emotional development is also examined. Besides von Bohm's realization of the true nature of things, Lola's confusion about what to do with the men surrounding her is also absorbing to see.
All in all, Fassbinder's exaggerated and satirical approach to Germany's era of post-war rebuilding is thoroughly entertaining thanks to the visual style and the lovely music. The actors, from the obnoxious Mario Adorf to the enigmatic Barbara Sukowa, do a good job too, and I consider the film a both delightful and thought-provoking piece of cinema that has definitely got me interested in seeing more of the director's work.
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