18 March 2008 | MOscarbradley
More bitter tears...
Francois Ozon's film version of Fassbinder's play is like another more slightly surreal, very blackly comic version of "The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant", played out this time mostly by men. Fifty year old Leo picks up twenty year old Franz and brings him home for the night. Franz stays, becoming his lover, his houseboy but mostly his slave. There are only two other characters in this slight, stage-bound piece; Anna, Franz's vacuous former girlfriend and Vera, Leo's former transsexual lover.
Fundamentally it's about love, of the destructive, unwholesome kind maybe, but love nevertheless. Whatever hold Leo has over Franz, (and Vera), they both love him though it could hardly be said that it is reciprocated. Leo is very much the master and everyone else is his slave. Whether he is capable of love is debatable.
Ozon makes the piece both erotic and humorous but it is never quite as touching as it ought to be. All four players give good performances with Malik Zidi quietly outstanding as the boy.