Water Drops on Burning Rocks | Chicago Reader

Water Drops on Burning Rocks

Young French director Francois Ozon based his third feature on an unproduced play Rainer Werner Fassbinder wrote at 19, and though Ozon is a Fassbinder admirer, it's the tension between story and direction that fascinates. Fifty-year-old Leo picks up 20-year-old Franz, who misses a date with his girlfriend in order to stick around. They're great in bed together, and Franz becomes a housewife, cleaning and cooking while the self-centered Leo goes on sales trips. But Leo constantly provokes quarrels, and eventually both their ex-girlfriends show up and Leo plays out his power games with predictably tragic results. Ozon films Fassbinder's characteristically wild tale austerely, on a single set with muted colors and repeated symmetrical compositions; his restraint foregrounds the characters' volatile behavior. And it's good to see a gay relationship treated no differently than a heterosexual one would be; as the director told an interviewer, "Homosexuality is never presented as an issue." 82 min.

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