Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s New Wave treatment of the noir film retains specific dramatic aspects of the genre– a heist, a recently released ex-con, a romantic triangle– even as it slows its story down to a nearly intolerable degree. Focusing on stark, chiaroscuro shots and static moments, Gods of the Plague willfully denies us the thrills of crime action in favor of listless, disaffected characters such as Franz, whose most expressive facet is often the smoke trickling away from his cigarette. Magarethe von Trotta, who would go on to become one of the most gifted filmmakers of her generation stars as Margarethe, a model attracted to both Franz and his friend Gunther. Hanna Schygulla plays Johanna, a hooker with a heart of gold who, wounded by Franz’s indifference, betrays him to the cops. Easily the most demanding film of Noirvember thus far.
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