World on a Wire

world_on_a_wire_titlecard_largeI am of two minds when it comes to Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s sole trek into “sci-fi.”  Throughout, his touch–-stylized but never over the top–-is assured.  He shot the film, originally a TV movie, in 16 mm, which gives it an appropriately grainy, lurid texture; and Michael Ballhaus’s cinematography stuns.  It’s rich with blue hues, and it makes the most of modernist German architecture.  I get that the story, a semi-sluggish trip into a “world on a wire” (a fragile, bent state of mind that may be the real world in which the hero seeks a real “reality”), is supposed to be disorienting.  That’s part of the fun.  But I wish the film had more zip.  Less mannered and less flashy than A Clockwork Orange, (perhaps the only other great look at a future-is-now dystopia from around that time), it lulls you along without making you notice you’re in the hands of a great filmmaker who’s as taken with the world of artifice as he is the concept behind it.


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