Petra von Kant (Margit Carstensen) is an outstanding fashion designer who has had the worst of luck when it comes to love and marriage. Residing in Bremen, the woman was once wedded to a man named Pierre whom she cared for dearly. After he died in a car crash while she was pregnant, Petra found comfort in the arms of a second husband. However, their marriage ended in divorce, heartbreak and loathing. Alone, exhausted and disillusioned with life, the businesswoman now lives with a fellow designer named Marlene (Irm Hermann), who also happens to be her maid and secretary. The latter is treated as a slave and their relationship is highly codependent, bordering on abusive. Moreover, the “love” Petra has her for partner seems to be weakening by the day.
Everything changes when Karin Thimm (Hanna Schygulla) enters their lives. An astonishingly attractive woman with an ambitious spirit, Karin is striving to become a model and to fully immerse herself in the fashion world. The twenty-three-year-old has just returned to Germany after living in Sydney for several years with her husband. She also happens to be friends with Sidonie von Grasenabb (Katrin Schaake), Petra’s cousin. The two women meet and Petra instantly falls head over hills in love with the would-be model. However, as Karin reveals more about her tragic past (her life as a neglected child and the death of her parents), Petra realizes that her love for this young, desirable woman might be unrequited.
“Pay as much attention to the mise-en-scène as to the story, that is, to everything you see on the screen except the editing.”
— A Sharper Focus
“It is the sort of film for which a single viewing is woefully insufficient.”
— Battleship Pretension
“The movie takes place in a lone room, and while at first it may seem like a stage driven choice, and maybe it was, it also works as perfect conductor for the story.”
— Bill’s Movie Emporium
Did You Know?
Although there are mentions of male characters throughout the film, there are only women present on-screen. The production process was brief and demanding – The Bitter Tears Of Petra von Kant (Die bitteren Tränen der Petra von Kant) was shot over the course of only ten days and Rainer Werner Fassbinder, the movie’s director, wrote the screenplay in no more than twelve hours, during a flight from Berlin to Los Angeles. Review our Gay Themed Films Here