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The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant(Die bitteren Tränen der Petra von Kant)

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West Germany · 1972
2h 5m
Director Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Starring Margit Carstensen, Hanna Schygulla, Katrin Schaake, Eva Mattes
Genre Drama

Petra von Kant is a successful fashion designer -- arrogant, caustic, and self-satisfied. She mistreats Marlene (her secretary, maid, and co-designer). Enter Karin, a 23-year-old beauty who wants to be a model. Petra falls in love with Karin and invites her to move in.

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What are people saying?

Zoe Rogan Profile picture for Zoe Rogan

One of Fassbinder's best works, an incredible melodrama that harkens back to the Golden Age of Hollywood classics he is referencing, such as the work of Douglas Sirk, while still pushing the boundaries and telling a new, vital, and at times shocking story.

What are critics saying?


Chicago Reader by Dave Kehr

A lesbian love triangle becomes a schema of sexual power plays in Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s most harshly stylized and perhaps most significant film.


Slant Magazine by Ed Gonzalez

Bitter Tears offers a sensory feast that’s expanded on by the elaborate dialogue, which is poetic even as translated into English, and by the astonishingly sensual and fluid movements of the actors and the camera.


The A.V. Club by Mike D'Angelo

It functions reasonably well as a straightforward, agonized melodrama, but it’s first and foremost a master class—co-taught by famed cinematographer Michael Ballhaus (Goodfellas, The Fabulous Baker Boys, Quiz Show), who got his start with Fassbinder—in the dynamic visual use of a constricted space, and proof that a tiny budget is no excuse.

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