Chinese Roulette (1976)

This drama by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, featuring the late Anna Karina, centers on a wealthy Munich husband and wife who simultaneously discover that their partner is having an affair.  Initially somewhat farcical before transitioning into a psychological thriller, Chinese Roulette is one of Fassbinder’s most stylish features; his camera frequently zooms and glides past his ensemble of tortured souls and his fascination with mirrors, doorways, and staircases is taken to its logical conclusion.  Despite its visual richness, Chinese Roulette feels a bit empty, lacking the nuance and substance of better Fassbinder pictures like Ali: Fear Eats the Soul and Fox and his Friends, and I found its ambiguous ending to be a bit frustrating.  Still, even as a mid-tier Fassbinder picture, Chinese Roulette is spectacularly entertaining, though never fully coalesces as critique of class and familial roles in contemporary Germany that Fassbinder intended it to be.

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