Water Drops On Burning Rocks Review

Mar 18, 2002 | 2:12pm EST

Set in 1970s Germany Leopold a 50-something businessman picks up and brings home 19-year-old Franz who is on his way to meet his fiancée. After a speedy sweet seduction they set up house and become as comfortable as old bickering shoes. Perservering Franz plays an apron-sporting housewife to surly petulant Leopold. But after Anna Franz's ex-fiancée shows up and wins him back Franz adopts the same short temper towards Anna that Leopold showed to him. When Leopold comes home and Vera his transsexual ex-lover arrives on the scene cruelty sex spontaneous line dancing and tragedy all ensue.

Bernard Giraudeau gives a provocative performance as the self-assured seductive Leopold who becomes cruel when the first blush of infatuation fades. Carrot-top Malik Zidi is appealing as smitten boy-toy Franz who is bewildered by the abuse. Seemingly young and innocent Ludivine Sagnier's sweet Anna sets out to steal back Franz with tender determination but ends up becoming a ravenous sex kitten under Leopold's thumb. As the tragic transsexual Vera Anna Levine gives the film's only truly sympathetic performance. She alone introduces a sad humanity to this ironic flip film.

Francois Ozon brings a deadpan so-subtle-it's-nearly-nonexistent humor to this unstaged play that was written by a then-19-year-old Fassbinder. The film which won The Berlin International Film Festival's Teddy Award for Best Feature keeps emotional insensitivity as commonplace and a source of humor. An odd fish of a film Ozon has concocted a sullen meditation on sexual domination that turns into a quirky sex farce and finally a half-hearted tragedy.

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