The confident third feature by the one-time enfant terrible Ozon is an acerbic romantic farce adapted from Fassbinder’s 1966 stage play (written when he was only 19). Reminiscent of the iconoclastic The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, it also anticipates Ozon’s first big hit, 8 Women. When Leo (Bernard Giraudeau), a smug, middle-aged insurance salesman prone to romances in which he plays the doted-on tyrant, seduces the beautiful teenager Franz (Malik Zidi), the stage is set for heartbreak and tragedy for both parties and their ex-lovers (Ludivine Sagnier and Anna Thomson). The film is set entirely in Leo’s Berlin bachelor pad and shot in fashion-magazine glossy colors with head-on compositions that catch the actors in theatrical poses. Remarking on his decision to adapt this unproduced, posthumously discovered play, Ozon said that it was Fassbinder’s seamless blend of the formal and the emotional that revealed to him the full power of cinema.

Screening as part of “Fassbinder and His Friends.”