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The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant

Released Jun 25, 1972 2h 4m Drama List
85% Tomatometer 34 Reviews 85% Audience Score 2,500+ Ratings
Two women (Hanna Schygulla, Irm Hermann) form a sexual triangle with a fashion designer (Margit Carstensen) in her arty apartment. Read More Read Less

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The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant

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The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant

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Critics Consensus

A thoughtful drama that grows even more powerful in retrospect, The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant sensitively depicts a woman's tortured search for connection.

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Critics Reviews

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Penelope Gilliatt New Yorker It is a lucid, beautiful work of innovation which hides its fondness for its characters under a cloak of august formalism. Mar 4, 2024 Full Review David Robinson Times (UK) The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant is dazzling in the brittle brilliance of its execution, the precision of its structure and movement, the total, hermetic self-containment of the tiny world it creates. Jun 27, 2023 Full Review Derek Malcolm Guardian Take it or leave it, it is a real contribution to technique to latter-day European cinema. Jun 27, 2023 Full Review Joshua Polanski Boston Hassle [Irm] Hermann gives the best performance of the film—and she does so without saying a single word. In my opinion, it’s one of the best performances in Fassbinder’s legendary run, Jul 16, 2024 Full Review Justine Smith Vague Visages The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant has the trappings of an ancient story of Gods and monsters: a stiff poetry of immeasurable beauty, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s magnificent romance transcends human drama. Jun 6, 2024 Full Review Sean Axmaker Stream on Demand Handsome with a touch of aloofness... it's a quintessentially Fassbinder portrait of doomed love, jealousy, and social taboos, bouncing between catty melodrama and naked emotional need. Sep 8, 2023 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

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PridePosterStudios Keep your hair on, Petra… Rated 1 out of 5 stars 05/09/24 Full Review peter w The use of mannequins as props drives home the themes of roles and performances in this challenging Fassbinder film. The blank surfaces of the mannequins contrast sharply with the Rubenesque mural that exudes life and vitality. Interacting within these two modes are the characters who are navigating the roles that they face in their lives with varying degrees of satisfaction. It is a fascinating exploration of power among the three generations of the van Kants, an assistant, a friend and an outsider who all find their roles challenged by Maria's apparent self-absorption. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review William L "I don't understand why everything must be so complicated when it can be simple." Sort of like Bergman, but with the melodrama dialed up and pain expressed through extravagant outfits rather than depression (though that may be a recent viewing of Cries and Whispers talking). Fassbinder's film feels like a relic from his vaunted career launchpad in theatre (because it is a direct adaptation of a stage play, and retains a confined atmosphere to match), with a minimal cast and a reliance on sincere interpersonal drama. Bitter Tears rides the waves of passion, diving headfirst into a beautifully self-absorbed and volatile fashion designer, Carstensen's titular Petra von Kant; the script draws you in with her enticingly chemical personality and penchant for melodrama, before gradually slipping into a sincere portrayal of obsession and desire. Contrasting Petra's increasingly authoritarian and sadistic treatment of her assistant Marlene (and her own daughter, and any visitor unfortunate enough to visit her home) with her increasingly submissive and degrading relationship with her lover-muse Karin delivers an interesting portrayal of desire, only wearing a thin veneer of garishness in a continuously rotating retinue of wigs. Where does the melodrama end and the sincere feeling begin? Is there a line between the two? Maybe there isn't after all. Emotion is emotion. (4/5) Rated 4 out of 5 stars 09/27/21 Full Review s r 1001 movies to see before you die. An odd film showing women's struggle for meaningful relationships. Saw on HBO Rated 3 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review Audience Member Perhaps no one other than Faye Dunaway has portrayed grandiose suffering so eloquently as Margit Carstensen in The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant. Fabulous costumes, claustrophobic cinematography, and flawless direction all certainly contribute to the film's greatness, but it's Rainer Werner Fassbinder's withering dissection of human power dynamics that truly sets Bitter Tears apart. The prolific dynamo auteur challenges his audience to both endure Petra's theatric wallowing and senseless cruelty, but also sympathize with her almost pitiful vulnerability. Gleefully stifling and endlessly indulgent, Fassbinder's multi-layered masterwork only becomes better with age. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 02/01/23 Full Review Audience Member Terrible. Waste of time watching. They should have found a more attractive actress for the part of Petra. Rated 0.5 out of 5 stars 02/07/23 Full Review Read all reviews
The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant

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Cast & Crew

Movie Info

Synopsis Two women (Hanna Schygulla, Irm Hermann) form a sexual triangle with a fashion designer (Margit Carstensen) in her arty apartment.
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
New Yorker Films
Production Co
Filmverlag der Autoren, Tango Film
Original Language
Release Date (Theaters)
Jun 25, 1972, Original
Release Date (Streaming)
Feb 28, 2017
2h 4m
Sound Mix
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