Ali: Fear Eats the Soul

Bomb Rating: 

No film should ever put the thought in our minds that old, flabby people still have sex.

This film was made by a German guy named Rainer Werner Fassbinder in 1974. It's partly based on Douglas Sirk's 1955 film "All That Heaven Allows," which was essentially remade recently by Todd Haynes as "Far From Heaven."

What do these three films all have in common? Simple: They're boring. All three deal with relationships between women and men of different class stature. The thing that sets Fassbinder's film apart is that the woman, Emmi, is really a hag. She's old and if she had any looks, there's really no sign of them. She falls for Ali, an immigrant from Morocco, and naturally everybody starts talking and being generally uncivil.

At least in the American versions of this story, the chicks are decent-looking. Sure, Jane Wyman was middle-aged when she fell for Rock Hudson, but at least one could see what Hudson might see in her. In "Far From Heaven," there's really no question what Dennis Haysbert sees in Julianne Moore. She's still a piece. In "Ali: Fear Eats the Soul," it's all about grossing us out. No film should ever put the thought in our minds that old, flabby people still have sex. Sure, it's possible, as Fassbinder asserts, that German society is still full of racists, but it's also possible that these people are merely coming out against old, flabby women expressing their sexuality.

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