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Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, Rainer Werner Fassbinder (1974)

Completely satisfying emotionally as a love story, yet at the same time so critically astringent, there’s no way you could call it a melodrama. A lonely widowed German charwoman of a certain age and a Moroccan guest worker fall in love. The forces of hatred, fear, and misunderstanding besiege them from both outside and from within. Love wins, but not until Fassbinder’s made it clear that, as Wittgenstein put it, “love is not a feeling; love is put to the test.” Utterly convincing, fascinating to look at. This was of course inspired by Douglas Sirk’s All That Heaven Allows, but does that look like Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson there, eating dinner together? No, it does not. Everyone in Fassbinder’s movie looks like a human being, which is part of what makes this picture so affecting.

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