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3 reviews, 5 user ratings

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Water Drops on Burning Rocks
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by Chris Parry

"Well it had my 'rocks' burning..."
3 stars

Hell, this is an oddball movie experience. Based on a play by acclaimed German writer/director Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Water Drops on Burning Rocks deals with a strange 50-year-old man (Bernard Giraudeau) who brings a 19-year-old-boy (Malik Zidi) home one evening with the intention of seducing him. The boy, who has a gorgeous girlfriend (Ludivine Sagnier) already, seems torn between accepting the seduction and running away screaming, but in the end gives in to the older man’s advances. Thus begins a bizarre passive aggressive relationship that tends to go on and on until the boy’s girlfriend arrives to take him home – only to become just as seduced by the older man in the process. Throw in a transsexual ex-wife suffering the same malaise (Anna Thompson), lots of fluffy thick 70’s carpet and some third act nudity that makes the first two acts all the more worthwhile, and there’s fun for everybody.

If you’re the type that can deconstruct Jackson Pollock’s painting, Blue Poles, perhaps you can figure out exactly what the meaning of all this is. To me, it’s a sex romp designed to throw a modern spin on Romeo and Juliet while exploring the psychology of sexuality. To others it will be an excuse to watch the magnifique Ludivine Sagnier bounce around a bedroom in the nude. Ms Sagnier manages, with just a few short scenes, to make this film entrancing. She’s as breathtaking as any woman ever put on the big screen and when she enters a scene wearing nothing but blue underwear and bra (or nothing at all), any red-blooded male has to hit rewind and watch it again. I did so at least six times.

French enfant terrible director François Ozon does a good job of bringing this Fassbinder play (which was written when Fassbinder was 19 and a sometime male prostitute) to life. That the play was never performed or filmed prior to this makes it a daring project, especially to Fassbinder purists, but the result never tries to be cinematic and flashy. Rather it all takes place in one apartment, with a lot of dialogue and not a lot of action, and of course an abundance of flesh.

Ozon isn't trying to stretch the boundaries of cinema here, rather he's delving into Fassbinder's work in the format it would have otherwise been first seen - a stage play.

Sure, sure, it’s supposed to be all about the art. You have to understand Fassbinder - okay, whatever. To about 49% of the world’s population, Water Drops on burning Rocks is about Ludivine Sagnier and her treasured chest. If only for that reason, the film is well worth a rental.

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originally posted: 09/21/02 07:43:14
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User Comments

7/10/20 Louise (the real one) Faithful to Fassbinder's work. Intriguingly filmed and play-like. Very good. 4 stars
9/22/03 matt shows how sometimes a play should stick with being a play. uneven and tries too hard 3 stars
9/21/02 Buddha Fantastic = Ludivine. The rest, not so much. 4 stars
1/27/01 Pablo Tanze Samba mit mir! Samba, samba die ganze Nacht! 4 stars
12/09/00 Jes it could be better 3 stars
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Directed by
  Francois Ozon

Written by
  Francois Ozon

  Bernard Giraudeau
  Malik Zidi
  Ludvine Sagnier
  Anna Levine

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