More Fassbinder goodness with this 1974 film as we see the central character start out as a happy go lucky woman who feels pressurised to find a man, settle down and adjust to married life. Her own parents are revealed to be in a loveless marriage until Martha’s father collapses and dies when he is with his daughter on holiday in Italy.
I’m not going to give away too much about the plot and what happens during the course of the movie as I don’t want to blunt the impact of the film but all I’ll say is that this is a dark piece of cinema! And I mean DARK!
As the concept of coercive control is just starting to be spoken about in the popular media, Fassbinder had made a film about it 1974. And gaslighting. And marital sadism.
A special mention needs to go to Margit Carstensen in the lead role whose performance is nothing short of astonishing as we see her character’s spirit and very existence being destroyed and disintegrating before our very eyes.
I also didn’t know that Karlheinz Bohm had ever depicted a darker character than his star turn in Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom. I was sooo wrong! His character here is a sadistic psychopath/narcissist and acted to grimy and reptilian perfection.
I remember when I saw the movie Threads for the first time. I thought to myself that it couldn’t get any darker but then saw that that it was only halfway through it’s running time. I then saw that it could get MUCH darker! The same happened when I watched Martha.
This does for marriage and societal expectations for women what Jaws did for sharks. When I watched this I kept thinking to myself ‘I’m so glad that I’m gay. And that I’m happily single!’
****and a half out of *****