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Friday, May 23, 2008

THE LEGEND OF RITA (2000)

Volker Schlondorff’s films get critical points for tackling tough/literary themes, but he’s, at best, a dutiful dog as director. This recent pic flubs a great topic: the ramifications of the fall of Soviet era communism on the radical-chic European Left. We watch the slow disintegration of a splinter group of anarchists who are initially protected by an East German Stasi agent after an "accidental" murder, as the tide of history and their own violent past catches up with them. Schlondorff can’t help but touch on the darkly ironic comedy in having East Germany’s last true believer turn out to be a semi-reformed self-loathing Western terrorist (and a sexy one at that), but we never get much below the surface on these issues, while a tragic ending allows far too much sympathy for the devil.

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