World on a Wire
Posted by martinteller on May 27, 2012
Fassbinder does his version of the 70′s paranoid thriller, with a sci-fi twist. A company is developing a computerized virtual reality simulation, intended to predict future trends. The lead programmer gives a strange message and dies under mysterious circumstances. Then the head of security vanishes without a trace, and no one except the new lead programmer (Klaus Löwitsch) even seems to remember he ever existed. With his suspicions aroused, he struggles to uncover the truth… and learn who he can trust.
In a post-Matrix world, much of the movie seems somewhat predictable and old hat, but it’s still executed quite nicely and to me is far more satisfying and gripping than anything the Wachowskis ever did. Fassbinder makes his points about reality and identity and control without resorting to a bunch of half-baked philosophy, “down the rabbit hole” silliness. Yes, the aesthetic is rather dated, but don’t skintight leather outfits and “bullet time” feel rather dated now, too? There’s a lot of use of mirrors (Fassbinder watching a lot of Losey, perhaps?) and distorted reflections to emphasize the multiple alternate planes of reality. Löwistch is quite good, with an antsy, restless demeanor that suits the character as he gets more and more inquisitive. A number of other Fassbinder regulars make an appearance, though I was disappointed that one of my favorites — Gottfried John — is only in one brief scene. Also keep an eye out for a cameo by Eddie Constantine, no doubt a little homage to Alphaville.
It’s not as thematically daring nor as visually stunning as other Fassbinder, but it is a pretty entertaining thriller with a solid premise (though perhaps some internal logic issues) and thoughtful ideas. I also have to thank this film for introducing me to “Albatross,” Fleetwood Mac’s gorgeous instrumental. I’ve never listened to early, Peter Green-era Mac before, looks like I might have to check some more out. Rating: Very Good