DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
A MAN LIKE EVA (Ein Man wie Eva) (director/writer: Radu Gabrea; screenwriter: Laurens Straub; cinematographer: Horst Schier; editor: Dragos-Emmanuel Witlowski; music: Lock Dikker; cast: Eva Mattes (Eva), Lisa Kreuzer (Gudrun), Werner Stocker (Walter), Charles Regnier (Yvonne), Charles M. Huber (Ali), Carola Regnier (Else); Runtime: 89; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Laurens Straub; Promovision International; 1984-W.German-in German with English subtitles)

 
"Deliciously perverse."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A Man Like Eva is deliciously perverse as directed and co-written by Radu Gabrea. The other screenwriter is Laurens Straub. It's a campy biopic about Rainer Werner Fassbinder, the late rapscallion German director. The affected bisexual Fassbinder is played fittingly by a woman, the magnificent Eva Mattes in drag, who oddly enough looks and acts amazingly like the innovative filmmaker (Eva was a former Fassbinder actress in the 1973 Jail Bait). 

Eva struts his/her stuff as the loathed, compulsive, bullying, sadistic movie director, in a role that is simply astonishing and eye-boggling.

The director is working out of a shabby rented mansion on the shoot of the remake of Dumas' Lady of the Camelias and is in a frenzied rush to finish before the dough runs out. Eva adorned in a beard and sunglasses, walking with a swagger, abuses all the members of the cast and crew alike and then tries to be seductively charming--considering the film crew family. Soon the film begins to feel like it might really be how Fassbinder churned out so many films in his mercurial career. 

Gabrea plays fast and loose with the director's celebrated raunchy personal life, as it highlights a series of sexual power plays Eva makes on the set including dumping his boyfriend (Charles M. Huber) for his leading lady (Lisa Kreuzer) until he lusts after his leading man (Werner Stocker). 

Whether it's true or not this depiction which plays as some craftily worked fiction and not as a documentary, might have nevertheless caught a chunk of Fassbinder's troubling and always chaotic life. It's a disturbing film about a brilliant filmmaker who certainly had his problems. A Man Like Eva is appropriately filmed as not your garden variety biopic. It should be a welcomed treat for those Fassbinder fans who are eager to learn more from an insider about what possibly made him tick, even if the plotline is rather sketchy and as drama it's not all there. 

REVIEWED ON 2/22/2004        GRADE: B +

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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