Sheer Madness | Chicago Reader

Sheer Madness

Margarethe von Trotta (Sisters, Marianne and Juliane) brings her glacial stylistics to a didactic tale of friendship between two women (1983): an assured, self-confident professor of literature (Hanna Schygulla) and a neurotic, suicide-prone artist (Angela Winkler), whose work consists of meticulous black-and-white copies of work by old male masters (the blunt symbolism is typical of von Trotta's approach). The film seems to strike the same chord as Marleen Gorris's feminist cult film A Question of Silence, and it leads to a similarly extreme conclusion—that there's only one solution to the problem of male oppression, and that's the Final Solution. Still, von Trotta makes movies like Mack makes trucks: there isn't a second in this heavy, heavy film that hasn't been built out of boilerplate to fit von Trotta's ideological program. Peter Striebeck costars as Winkler's dementedly possessive husband, a character allegedly based on von Trotta's own spouse, director Volker Schlöndorff (The Tin Drum).

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